Pope Julius' first sculpture, Lacoon and his Sons, was purchased on that date, and that is when the Vatican Museum's history begins. The Vatican Museums currently have about 70,000 paintings and sculptures in its collection, which are prominently displayed in 54 galleries. Classic sculptures, tapestries, and paintings feature Renaissance masters including Raphael, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Bernini, and da Vinci. Some of the rooms inside the Vatican Museum, such as the Raphael’s Rooms or the Sistine Chapel, stand out in their artistic fame. The Museum also displays a collection of Modern Religious Art that features pieces by artists including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Carlo Carrà.
The Borgia Apartments are home to some of the Museums’ biggest repository of frescoes. They are a set of six rooms used as a home by Pope Alexander VI : the Room of the Sibyls, Room of the Creed, Room of the Liberal Arts, Room of the Saints, Room of Mysteries, and Room of Pontiffs. In the nineteenth century, he commissioned Bernardino di Betto to paint frescoes in the chambers. It later held several of Leo XIII's nephew Cardinals until the end of the 1800s, when he decided to allow it to the public.
Holding some of the world’s most famed artworks, the Sistine Chapel stands out as the most popular Museum in the city. The chapel, located in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, was named for Pope Sixtus IV, who erected it between 1473 and 1481. Among the most popular places to visit when you explore the Vatican Museums, the Chapel is known for its frescoes.
During the reign of Sixtus IV, Botticelli, Perugino, Pinturicchio, Ghirlandaio, and Rosselli painted a sequence of frescoes depicting the Life of Moses and the Life of Christ. However, it is Michelangelo’s paintings that owes the Chapel its fame. Michelangelo created the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel between 1508 and 1512 on Pope Julius II's mandate.He worked on the ceiling, which was originally painted as golden stars on a blue sky, to transform it into one of the world's most famous works of art. The Last Judgment is the most famous piece of art in the Sistine Chapel, and takes up the full wall behind the altar.
After the collection at the Lateran Palace was transferred to the Vatican, the Lapidario Profano ex Lateranense was formed. The inscriptions are grouped into two categories: "Extra-urban or municipal" and "Inscriptions from Rome." This second category is further subdivided according to literary content, archaeological setting, and extra-urban region. Previously exhibited at the Lapidario Profano, grave inscriptions of various origins are now on display in the Major Mosaic Area. A portion of "Municipal Inscriptions" is also on exhibit.
The Lapidary Gallery stores all of the Vatican’s stone epigraphs. The gallery, which is located on the southern end of the long hallway that connects the Vatican Palace to the Belvedere Palace, houses a stone library with epigraphs spanning from the 1st century B.C. to the 6th century A.D. The Gallery is a "stone library," with more than 3400 "pages" divided across 48 walls, and it houses the Vatican's richest lapidary collection.
The Pinacoteca, which opened in 1932, is one of the newest galleries inside the Vatican Museums. The Pinacoteca, designed by Luca Beltrami for Pius X in the eighteenth century Square Garden, houses 460 artworks spread across eighteen rooms. The collection started with 118 artworks acquired by Pope Pius VI, and now houses some of the biggest names in the history of western art. The collection is organized chronologically and by school. There are masterpieces by the greatest painters in Italian painting history, including Giotto, Perugino, Raphael, Leonardo, Tiziano, Veronese, Caravaggio, and Crespi.
The Christian Lapidarium has approximately 2,000 inscriptions from churches, urban convents, and Roman catacomb excavations. Pope Pius IX ordered the construction of the lapidary in 1854. Inscriptions are etched on marble, painted on brick, or stamped with stamps. In 1963, the collection was moved to the Vatican from the Lateran Apostolic Palace. The inscriptions in this collection are split into three categories: historical inscriptions, theological inscriptions, and inscriptions mixed with symbols and figures.
One of the most striking rooms inside the Vatican Museums, the Gallery of Maps prides itself in its comprehensive collections of painted topographical maps of Italy. Ignazio Danti, a geographer, created the maps on the Pope's request. In fact, the maps were made so the Pope could view all of the Vatican strongholds while standing on the same spot. The gallery is 120 meters long, and Danti worked on the 40 panels for three years. The panels include maps of the entire Italian peninsula, regional maps, geographical maps of Ancient Italy and Modern Italy, and a map of the four important Italian ports of the sixteenth century, namely Venice, Ancona, Genoa, and Civitavecchia.
In terms of popularity, the Raphael Rooms closely follow the Sistine Chape;. The four rooms, Sala di Costantino, Stanza di Eliodoro, Stanza della Segnatura, and Stanza dell'Incendio del Borgo, are together known as the Stanze of Raphael.One of the most popular sites to visit inside the Vatican Museums, Raphael’s Rooms are famous to house the Master’s wall frescoes. Each fresco depicts an episode in the history of Christianity- the Baptism of Constantine, the Dispute of the Blessed Sacrament, and so on.The ceiling, painted by Tommaso Laureti in 1585, depicts the "Triumph of Christianity" over paganism, as indicated by the shattered statue on the ground.
This is the private chapel of the "ancient apartment," which served as the pontiffs' home throughout the 16th century, and was built at Pope Urban VIII Barberini's request in 1631 in the southwest corner of the Borgia Tower. The artist Alessandro Vaiani painted images of the Flagellation, the Crowning with Thorns, Christ's Meeting with Veronica, and Christ in the Garden for these murals, which tell the story of the Passion of Christ. There is also a frescoed altarpiece by Pietro da Cortona from 1635 that depicts a Pietà with the Madonna, St. John, St. Mary Magdalene, and Nicodemus.
Previously, this area housed personnel who were in charge of keeping an eye on the pontiff's bedroom as well as those who were in charge of transporting the pope's sedan chair. However, the Chiaroscuri is more than just a room for rest- it holds some of the Chapel’s finest art and architecture. Raphael's design served as the basis for the sixteenth-century creation of the hardwood coffered ceiling that you see today. A number of Apostles and Saints have been painted on the walls. It was painted by Raphael, but because it had deteriorated over time, Federico and Taddeo Zuccari totally repainted it. Additionally, you may locate the protector Pope Leo X Medici's weaponry here.
From 1856 to 1865, Francis Podesti worked on the large chamber next to Raphael's Rooms at the request of Pope Pius IX, who intended to commemorate the dogma's declaration of the Immaculate Conception in 1854. Podesti’s work now fings it place in the Room of the Immaculate Conception. The portrayal begins on the ceiling with scenes that make references to the Virgin's virtues and goes all the way to the east wall with images from the Coronation of the Image of Mary, an occasion that takes place after the Proclamation.
The Tapestries Gallery, also known as the Galleria Degli Arazzi, houses the Vatican's tapestry collection, which began in the fourteenth century when the pontiffs commissioned a series of tapestries. The Tapestry Gallery displays the Flemish series, which shows incidents from Christ's life based on paintings by Raphael's disciples. The museum also has 17th-century tapestries depicting scenes from Urban VIII's life. One of the most notable pieces in this collection are those commissioned by Pope Leo X, dedicated to Raphael and portraying the Acts of the Apostles. The chamber also holds a tapestry depicting the Last Supper, which was sent to Pope Clement VII by King Francis I in 1533.
Roman sculptures and Renaissance paintings are among the many pieces of art that have been accumulated throughout the years by the Catholic Church and the papacy and may be found inside the Vatican Museums.
The foundation of the Vatican Museum was initiated by Pope Julius, and started with him acquiring a sculpture of Laocoon and his sons.
A trip to the Vatican is definitely worth a visit. Whether you’re looking to explore the history of Western Civilization, or have an eye for art, the Vatican Museums’ repository of art and architecture is sure to leave you bewitched.
As you explore the Vatican Museums, it will gradually become evident that the Museums are home to some of the most exquisite art and architecture in the world; this includes the frescoes of Raphael, the Sistine Chapel, and Bramante’s staircase.
The 54 museums that make up the Vatican Museums include a combined 1400 rooms, chapels, and galleries.
The Vatican Museums were built as a repository of art collected by the Papacy over the centuries.