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:: SILVER HOTELS COLLECTION · MUSEUMS · VATICAN MUSEUM AND THE SISTINE CHAPEL ::
The Vatican Museums were founded in the 16th century with a group of sculptures that were collected by by Pope Julius II (1503-1513).
The Pio Clementino Museum, was the first Vatican museum founded by Pope Clement XIV (1769-1774) in 1771.
It began with a collection of Renaissance and ancient art and was later enlarged by Pope Clement's successor Pius VI(1775-1799), therefore getting its name.
Later, Pius VII (1800-1823) considerably expanded the collections of Classical Antiquities, to which he added the Chiaromonti Museum and the "Braccio Nuovo" gallery. He also enriched the Epigraphic Collection, which was conserved in the Lapidary Gallery.
The Etruscan Museum, founded in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI (1831-1846), holds archaeological finds discovered during excavations carried out from 1828 onwards in southern Etruria.
Later, he established the Egyptian Museum (1839), which houses ancient artefacts from explorations in Egypt.
In 1970 Pope John XXIII (1958-1963), transferred collections from the Gregorian Profane Museum, Pio Christian Museum and the Hebrew Lapidary, to the Vatican where they can be seen today. The collections include ancient sculptures (especially sarcophagi) and inscriptions with ancient Christian content, and 137 inscriptions from ancient Hebrew cemeteries in Rome.
The Vatican Museums also include the Gallery of Tapestries, a collection of various 15th and 17th century tapestries; the Gallery of Maps, decorated under the pontificate of Gregory XIII (1572-1585) and restored by Urban VIII (1623-1644); the Sobieski Room and the Room of the Immaculate Conception; the Raphael Stanze and the Loggia, which were decorated by order of Julius II and Leo X (1513-1521); the Chapel of Nicholas V (1447-1455), painted by Fra Angelico.
In 1973 the Collection of Modern and Contemporary Religious Art was added and inaugurated by Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) in the Borgia Apartment. where Pope Alexander VI lived until his death (1492-1503).
The Vatican Pinacoteca, created under Pius XI (1922-1932) is in a special building near the new entrance to the Museums.
the Missionary-Ethnological Museum which was founded by Pius XI in 1926, arranged on the upper floors of the Lateran Palace and later transferred, under Pope John XXIII, to the Vatican where it has been opened again to the public in the same building which housed the former Lateran collections.
The Vatican Historical Museum, founded in 1973 and transferred in 1987 to the Papal Apartment in the Lateran Palace, houses a series of papal portraits along with objects of the past Pontifical Military Corps and of the Pontifical Chapel and Family and historic ceremonial objects no longer in use.
The Carriage and Automobile Museum is a section of the Vatican Historical Museum. In the year 2000, the Vatican Museums opened a new large entrance that provides visitor information and other services; on display are many new artworks, two of which were specially created for this grand entrance hall.
The world famous Sistine Chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere (pontiff from 1471 to 1484) who had the old Cappella Magna restored between 1477 and 1480.
It was executed by a team of painters in the 15th century made up initially of Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli, assisted by their respective shops and by some closer assistants among whom Biagio di Antonio, Bartolomeo della Gatta and Luca Signorelli stand out. The original ceiling was done by Pier Matteo d'Amelia who painted a starry sky. The work on the frescoes began in 1481 and were concluded in 1482.
On 15 August 1483, Sixtus IV consecrated the new chapel dedicating it to Our Lady of the Assumption. In 1508, Julius II della Rovere (1503 to 1513), nephew of Sixtus IV, decided to partly alter the decoration, entrusting the work to Michelangelo Buonarroti, who re-painted the Ceiling the upper part of the walls with the lunettes.
The work was finished in October 1512 and on the Feast of All Saints (1 November), Julius II inaugurated the Sistine Chapel with a solemn Mass.
The nine central panels show the Stories of Genesis, from the Creation to the Fall of man, to the Flood and the subsequent rebirth of mankind with the family of Noah.
Towards the end of 1533 Clement VII de' Medici (1523 to 1534) gave Michelangelo the task of further altering the decoration of the Sistine Chapel by painting the Last Judgement on the altar wall.
This caused the loss of the 15th century frescoes, that is to say of the altar-piece of the Virgin assumed among the Apostles and the first two episodes of the Stories of Moses and of Christ, painted by Perugino.
In this fresco Michelangelo wished to show the glorious return of Christ in the light of the texts of the New Testament (cf. Matthew 24:30-31; 25:31-46; First letter to the Corinthians 15:51-55). The artist began the extraordinary work in 1536, during the pontificate of Paul III, and completed it in the autumn of 1541. The frescoes of the entrance wall were repainted in the second half of the 16th century and the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel underwent complete restoration between 1979 and 1999.
The Conclave for the election of the Supreme Pontiff is held in the Chapel. It is again the words of the Homily pronounced by His Holiness John Paul II that underline the primary importance of the Sistine Chapel in the life of the Church: "The Sistine Chapel is the place that, for each Pope, holds the memory of a special day in his life. ... Precisely here, in this sacred space, the Cardinals gather, awaiting the manifestation of the will of Christ with regard to the person of the Successor of St Peter. And here, in a spirit of obedience to Christ and trusting in his Mother, I accepted the election that sprung from the Conclave, declaring my readiness to serve the Church.
Thus therefore the Sistine Chapel became once again before the whole Catholic Community the place of the action of the Holy Spirit that nominates the Bishops in the Church, and nominates especially he who must be the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter".