Vatican Museums are the museums of the Vatican City which are located within the city’s boundaries. 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 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. Domenico Fontana was the architect of this palace which was built to his design in 1586.
Right at the entrance the staircase is a massive and impressive structure with the ceiling decorated with frescoes. It had been refurbished by Pope Paul IV into ten halls; each of these halls had frescoes of the Mannerist Age.
The hall known as the Conciliation, and was provided with allegories related to the papacy of Sixtus V. The other halls were named Constantine, Hall of Apostles, Emperors Room, Popes Room and so forth. The fresco decorations were on themes of the History of Rome, episodes of the Bible related to Daniel, David, Solomon, Samuel and others, and also related to the Gospel.
Several colourful tapestries and Goblins added to the aesthetic elegance of the halls. Before the History Museum decided to relocate here to a more luxurious locale, none of the rooms had been allowed to be used for any general public purpose.
The popes were among the first sovereigns who opened the art collections of their palaces to the public thus promoting knowledge of art history and culture. As seen today, the Vatican Museums are a complex of different pontifical museums and galleries that began under the patronage of the popes Clement XIV (1769-1774) and Pius VI (1775-1799).
In fact, the Pio-Clementine Museum was named after these two popes, who set up this first major curatorial section. The Collection of Modern Religious Art was added to the Museums in 1973. The History Museum is located in the Lateran Palace and includes, among other things, items that belonged to the Pontifical Military Corps.
The Museums are usually open to the public every weekday morning and in the early afternoon in summer. Entry is free on the last Sunday of every month. The entrance to the Museums is on Viale Vaticano, near Piazza Risorgimento.
As the decades passed, more popes added to the amazing collection of diverse artworks owned and displayed by the Vatican. Today, there are thirteen museums in a huge architectural complex comprising of two Vatican palaces. One of the Vatican Museums’ main strengths is the collection of ancient Roman and Greek art, which is spread over four museums.
Some of the most famous statues, including the Laocoön and the Apollo del Belvedere can be found here. The Vatican Historical Museum (Museo Storico) provides a fascinating look at the long and sometimes turbulent history of the Vatican.