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The Vatican Museums (Italian: Musei Vaticani; Latin: Musea Vaticana) are the public museums of the Vatican City. They display works from the immense collection amassed by the Catholic Church and the papacy throughout the centuries, including several of the most well-known Roman sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world. The museums contain roughly 70,000 works, of which 20,000 are on display, and currently employ 640 people who work in 40 different administrative, scholarly, and restoration departments.
Pope Julius II founded the museums in the early 16th century. The Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling and altar wall decorated by Michelangelo, and the Stanze di Raffaello (decorated by Raphael) are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums.
In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vatican Museums were visited by only 1,300,000 persons, a drop of 81 percent from the number of visitors in 2019, but still enough to rank the museums fourth among the most-visited art museums in the world.
There are 24 galleries, or rooms, in total, with the Sistine Chapel, notably, being the last room visited within the Museum.
The Vatican Museums trace their origin to one marble sculpture, purchased in the 16th century: Laocoön and His Sons was discovered on 14 January 1506, in a vineyard near the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Pope Julius II sent Giuliano da Sangallo and Michelangelo, 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, which represents the Trojan priest Laocoön and his two sons, Antiphantes and Thymbraeus being attacked by giant serpents, on public display at the Vatican exactly one month after its discovery.
Benedict XIV founded the Museum Christianum, 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.
On 1 January 2017, Barbara Jatta became the Director of the Vatican Museums, replacing Antonio Paolucci who had been director since 2007.
The art gallery was housed in the Borgia Apartment until Pius XI ordered construction of a dedicated building. The new building, designed by Luca Beltrami, was inaugurated on 27 October 1932. The museum's paintings include:
The Collection of Modern Religious Art was added in 1973 and houses paintings and sculptures from such artists as Carlo Carrà, Giorgio de Chirico, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Marc Chagall, Paul Klee, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso.
The group of museums includes several sculpture museums surrounding the Cortile del Belvedere. These are the Museo Gregoriano Profano, with classical sculpture, and others as below:
The museum takes its name from two popes: Clement XIV, who established the museum, and Pius VI, who brought it to completion. Clement XIV came up with the idea of creating a new museum in Innocent VIII's Belvedere Palace and started the refurbishment work.
Clement XIV founded the Museo Pio-Clementino in 1771; it originally contained artworks of antiquity and the Renaissance. 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 as follows:
This museum was founded in the early 19th century by Pius VII, whose surname before his election as Pope was Chiaramonti. The museum consists of a large arched gallery in which are exhibited several statues, sarcophagi and friezes. The New Wing, or Braccio Nuovo, built by Raffaele Stern, houses statues including the Augustus of Prima Porta, the Doryphoros, and The River Nile. It is in the Neoclassical style and has a wide arched roof with skylights. The Galleria Lapidaria forms part of the Museo Chiaramonti, and contains over 3,000 stone tablets and inscriptions. It is accessible only with special permission, usually for the purpose of academic study.
Founded by Gregory XVI in 1837, this museum has nine galleries and houses Etruscan pieces, coming from archaeological excavations in the territory of the Papal State as well as other works already held in the Vatican. The collection include vases, sarcophagus, bronzes, terracotta, ceramics as well as works from the Falcioni and Guglielmi Collections.
This museum houses a large collection of artifacts from Ancient Egypt and also many Egyptian works of Roman production in nine rooms. The Carlo Grassi Collection of bronzes is part of the collection. Such material includes papyruses, sarcophagi, mummies, sculptures and reproductions of the Book of the Dead. 
The Vatican Historical Museum (Italian: Museo storico vaticano) was founded in 1973 at the behest of Paul VI, and was initially hosted in environments under the Square Garden. In 1987, it moved to the main floor of the Lateran Palace, where it opened in March 1991.