Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

Vatican Museums
Musei Vaticani
Established 1506
Location Vatican City
Visitors 4,310,083 (2007)[1]
Director Antonio Paolucci
Website http://www.museivaticani.va


The Vatican Museums (Italian: Musei Vaticani) are the museums of the Vatican City and are located within the city's boundaries. They display works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world.

Pope Julius II founded the museums in the early 16th century. The Sistine Chapel with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and the Stanze della Segnatura decorated by Raphael are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums. They were visited by 4,310,083 people in the year 2007.[1] The Vatican Museums broke attendance records in 2011 with just over 5 million people.

Origins


The Vatican Museums trace their origin to one marble sculpture, purchased 500 years ago: The sculpture of Laocoön and his Sons was discovered 14 January 1506, in a vineyard near the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Pope Julius II sent Giuliano da Sangallo and Michelangelo Buonarroti, who were working at the Vatican, to examine the discovery. On their recommendation, the pope immediately purchased the sculpture from the vineyard owner. The pope put the sculpture of Laocoön and his sons on public display at the Vatican exactly one month after its discovery.

The Museum Christianum was founded by Benedict XIV, and some of the Vatican collections formed the Lateran Museum, which Pius IX founded by decree in 1854.[2]

The Museums celebrated their 500th anniversary in October 2006 by permanently opening the excavations of a Vatican Hill necropolis to the public.[3]

Pinacoteca Vaticana

The art gallery was housed in the Borgia Apartment, until Pope Pius XI ordered construction of a proper building. The new building was inaugurated on October 27, 1932.[4] The designer was Luca Beltrami. The museum has paintings including:

Collection of Modern Religious Art

The Collection of Modern Religious Art houses paintings and sculptures from artists like Carlo Carrà and Giorgio de Chirico.

Sculpture museums

The group of museums includes several sculpture museums surrounding the Cortile del Belvedere.

Museo Pio-Clementino


Pope Clement XIV founded the Pio-Clementino museum in 1771, and originally it contained the Renaissance and antique works. The museum and collection were enlarged by Clement's successor Pius VI. Today, the museum houses works of Greek and Roman sculpture.

There are 54 galleries, or salas, in total, with the Sistine Chapel, notably, being the very last sala within the Museum – visitors need to proceed through the other 53 salas before earning their reward with access to the Sistine. Some notable galleries are:

  • Greek Cross Gallery: (Sala a Croce Greca): with the porphyri sarcophagi of Constance and Saint Helen, daughter and mother of Constantine the Great.
  • Sala Rotonda: shaped like a miniature Pantheon, the room has impressive ancient mosaics on the floors, and ancient statues lining the perimeter, including a gilded bronze statue of Hercules.
  • Gallery of the Statues (Galleria delle Statue): as its name implies, holds various important statues, including Sleeping Ariadne and the bust of Menander. It also contains the Barberini Candelabra.
  • Gallery of the Busts (Galleria dei Busti): Many ancient busts are displayed.
  • Cabinet of the Masks (Gabinetto delle Maschere): The name comes from the mosaic on the floor of the gallery, found in Villa Adriana, which shows ancient theater masks. Along the walls, several famous statues are shown including the Three Graces.
  • Sala delle Muse: Houses the statue group of Apollo and the nine muses as well as statues by important ancient Greek sculptors.
  • Sala degli Animali: So named because of the many ancient statues of animals.


Museo Chiaramonti

This museum is named after Pope Pius VII (whose last name was Chiaramonti before his election as pope), who founded it in the early 19th century. The museum consists of a large arched gallery in which sides are exhibited several statues, sarcophaguses and friezes. The New Wing, Braccio Nuovo built by Raphael Stern, houses important statues like The Prima Porta Augustus, Doryphorus, and The River Nile. Galeria Lapidaria is another part of Chiaramonti museum, with more than 3,000 stone tablets and inscriptions, which is the world's greatest collection of its kind. However, it is opened only by special permission, usually for reasons of study.

Museo Gregoriano Etrusco

Founded by Pope Gregory XVI in 1836, this museum has eight galleries and houses important Etruscan pieces, coming from archaeological excavations.[5] The pieces include: vases, sarcophagus, bronzes and the Guglielmi Collection.

Museo Gregoriano Egiziano

Founded by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839, this museum houses a grand collection of Ancient Egyptian material.[6] Such material includes papyruses, the Grassi Collection, animal mummies, and reproductions of the famous Book of the Dead.[7]

Vatican Historical Museum

The Vatican Historical Museum (Italian: Museo storico vaticano) was founded in 1973 at the behest of Pope Paul VI,[8] and was initially hosted in environments under the Square Garden. In 1987 it was moved to the main floor of the Apostolic Palace of the Lateran and opened in March 1991.

The Vatican Historical Museum has a unique collection of portraits of the Popes from the sixteenth century to date, the memorable items of the Papal Military Corps of the 16–17th centuries and old religious paraphernalia related to rituals of the papacy. Also on display on the lower floor are the papamobili (Popemobiles); carriages and motorcars of Popes and Cardinals, including the first cars used by Popes.[9]

Works in the Vatican museums


On the last Sunday of each month, the Vatican Museum is open to the public for free. This is extremely popular and it is common for people to wait in line for many hours. The other days of the week you can use the online ticket office to purchase an individual ticket or group tour ticket, either of which will enable you to bypass the ticket line completely. This image is a panoramic view of one small stretch of the entire queue in April 2007, which continues for some distance in both directions beyond view.

Visitors

Usually more than 4 million people visit the Museums every year. In 2011, the number of visitors reached 6 million. (by Editor Report Antonio Paolucci in "L'Osservatore Romano" of January 10, 2012)

See also

References

Further reading

  • G. Spinola, Il Museo Pio-Clementino (3 vols., 1996, 1999, 2004)
  • G. B. Visconti and E. Q. Visconti, Il Museo Pio-Clementino Descritto (8 vols., 1782-1792)

External links

  • Vatican Museums official website
  • Vatican Museums official on-line ticket office
  • Official English information

Coordinates: 41°54′23″N 12°27′16″E / 41.90639°N 12.45444°E / 41.90639; 12.45444