Vatican Museums

VISITS TO THE VATICAN MUSEUMS: The Vatican Museums are open weekdays from 10:00 to 13:45 during November - February (except during the Christmas period when they are open from 8:45 to 16:45). During March - October the Museums are open Monday - Friday from 10:00 to 16:45 and Saturdays from 10:00 to 14:45. On the last Sunday of each month the Museums can be visited free of admission charge from 9:00 to 13:45. Entrance to the Museums is not possible from 75 minutes before closing time.

For information:

telephone +39.06.69883860 fax +39.06.69885433


he Vatican Museums IN Italian Musei Vaticani are the museums of the Vatican City and are located within the city's boundaries and the Vatican Gardens. They display works from the immense collection built up by the Popes 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 di Raffaello decorated by Raphael are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums. In 2013 they were visited by 6 million people which combined makes it the 3rd most visited art museum in the world.

There are 54 galleries in total, with the Sistine Chapel notably being the very last within the Museum. It is one of the largest museums in the world.


Spiral stairs of the Vatican Museums designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932.The Vatican Museums trace their origin to one marble sculpture purchased 500 years ago namely 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.

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


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. The designer was Luca Beltrami. The museum has paintings including the following:

Giotto's Stefaneschi Triptych

Olivuccio di Ciccarello, Opere di Misericordia

Raphael's Madonna of Foligno, Oddi Altarpiece and Transfiguration

Leonardo da Vinci's St. Jerome in the Wilderness

Caravaggio's Entombment

Perugino's Madonna and Child with Saints and San Francesco al Prato Resurrection

Filippo Lippi's Marsuppini Coronation


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

Museo Pio-Clementino

Photo of a gallery in the museum. It is in the Classical style and has a wide arched roof with skylights. The colour scheme is blue-grey and white with a polychrome marble floor. The walls of each side of the gallery have a row of large niches in which stand marble statues. Between the niches are plinths supporting smaller portrait sculptures.

The New Wing, Braccio Nuovo built by Raffaele Stern

A marble statue of the Emperor Augustus. He stands with one arm raised as if in command. Augustus is depicted as a man of about thirty five with short hair and clean shaven. He wears Roman military uniform of a breast plate, leather accoutrements and a cloak over a short tunic. The breastplate is decorated with symbolic figures. As a work of art, the statue displays high technical mastery.

The Prima Porta Augustus

The Museum takes it's name from two popes, Clement XIV and Pius VI, the pope who brought the museum into completion. Clement XV came up with the idea of creating a new museum in innocent VIII's Belvedere palace and started the refurbishment work.

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. 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.One wove the thread of life,second nurtured it, third cut it. They were created by Zeus ( ROMAN FORM:Jupiter)

Sala delle Muse: Houses the statue group of Apollo and the nine muses, uncovered in a Roman villa near Tivoli in 1774, as well as and statues by important ancient Greek or Roman sculptors. the center piece is Belvedere Torso, revered by Michelangelo and other Renaissance men.

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 Raffaele 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. The pieces include: vases, sarcophagus, bronzes and the Guglielmi Collection.

Museo Gregoriano Egiziano

This museum houses a grand collection of Ancient Egyptian material. Such material includes papyruses, the Grassi Collection, animal mummies, and reproductions of the famous Book of the Dead.


The Museo Gregoriano Egiziano was inaugurated 2 February 1839 to commemorate the anniversary of Gregory XVI's accession to the papacy. The creation of the Museo Gregoriano Egiziano was particularly close to the pope's heart as he Believed the Understanding of the ancient Egyptian civilisation was vital in terms of its scientific importance as well as it's value in understanding the old testament. This Felling was declared in a paper by the museums first curator, the skilled physiologist barbanite father Luigi Maria Ungarelli.

Statue of the Nile recumbent 1st-2nd Century AD, from Rome Museo Gregoriano Egizziano

Vatican Historical Museum

The Vatican Historical Museum (Italian: Museo storico vaticano) was founded in 1973 at the behest of Pope Paul VI 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 16th 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.

Other Highlights in the Museum

Photo of a long wide corridor filled with a crowd of people in casual dress. The ceiling is arched and is elaborately decorated with gilt stucco and small brightly coloured pictures. The walls have frescoes of large maps, each of which has a brilliant blue background.

Gallery of Maps

The red marble papal throne, formerly in the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano;

Roman sculpture, tombstones, and inscriptions, including the Early Christian Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus and Dogmatic sarcophagus, and the epitaph of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus;

The Raphael Rooms with many works by Raphael and his workshop, including the masterpiece The School of Athens

The Niccoline Chapel

The Sistine Chapel, including the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

The Gallery of Maps, topographical maps of the whole of Italy painted on the walls by friar Ignazio Danti of Perugia, commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII (1572–1585). It remains the world's largest pictorial geographical study.

The frescoes and other works in the Borgia Apartment built for Pope Alexander VI (Borgia).

The double spiral staircase, designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932. The staircase has two parts, a double helix and is of shallow incline being a stepped ramp rather than a true staircase. It is encircles the outer wall of a stairwell of approximately fifteen metres (49 feet) wide and with a clear space at the centre. The balustrade around the ramp is of ornately worked metal


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)