Vatican Museums

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The Vatican Museums (Italian: Musei Vaticani), in Rome, inside the Vatican City, are among the greatest museums in the world, since they display works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries. Pope Julius II founded the museums in the 16th century. The Sistine Chapel and the Stanza 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.

Origins

Vatican Museums - THE  BORGIAS   wikiThe Vatican Museums trace their origin to one marble sculpture, purchased 500 years ago. The sculpture of Laocoön (pictured left), the priest who, according to Greek mythology, tried to convince the people of ancient Troy not to accept the Greeks' "gift" of a hollow horse, 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 in the grips of a sea serpent on public display at the Vatican exactly one month after its discovery.


Pinacoteca Art Gallery


Vatican Museums - THE  BORGIAS   wikiThe collection was first housed in the Borgia Apartments, until Pope Pius XI ordered construction of a proper building. The designer was Luca Beltrami. The museum has many famous paintings such as Giotto's Stefaneschi Triptych, Raphael's Madonna of Foligno (pictured right) and Transfiguration, Leonardo da Vinci's St. Jerome in the Wilderness, Caravaggio's Entombment, and Perugino's Madonna and Child with Saints.

Collection of Modern Religious Art


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

Sculpture Museums

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

Pio Clementino Museum

Pope Clement XIV founded the Pio-Clementino Vatican museum in 1771, and originally it contained the Renaissance and antique works. The museum and collection were enlarged by Clement's successor Pope 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.
  • Vatican Museums - THE  BORGIAS   wikiGallery of the Statues (Galleria delle Statue): as its name implies, holds various important statues, including Sleeping Ariadne (pictured right) 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 theatre 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

Vatican Museums - THE  BORGIAS   wikiThis museum is named after Pope Pius VII (whose last name was Chiaramonti before his election as pope), who founded it in the early 1800s. The museum consists of a large arched gallery in which sides are exhibited several statues, sarcophaguses and friezes. The New Wing, Braccio Nuovo, The Prima Porta Augustus (pictured right) 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 XIII in 1836, this museum has eight galleries and houses important Etruscan pieces, coming from archaeological excavations. The pieces include: vases, sarcophagus, bronzes and the Guglielmi Collection.

Museo Egiziano
Founded by Pope Gregory XVI, this museum houses a grand collection of Ancient Egyptian material. Such material includes papyruses, the Grassi Collection, animal mummies, and the famous Book of the Dead.

Works in the Vatican Museums


On the last Sunday of each month, the Vatican Museum is open to the public at no charge.





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