The Vatican Museums, Musei Vaticani in Italian, are a series of art museums in the Vatican City, housing over 9 miles of the most extensive collection of art in the world, and are open to the public.
The museums originated with Pope Julius II in the 16th century, with a small number of sculptures. The Popes were among the first to open their art collections to the public to encourage cultural interest, and the number of museums and collections has grown over the centuries.
There are now at least 24 museums and collections housed in the Vatican, including a number of masterpieces by Caravaggio, da Vinci, Giotto, Raphael, Poussin,Titian and, of course, Michelangelo’s heroic Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes.
Since early 2000, there is a new welcome visitors entrance, offering services like a coat check, visitor information, guided tours, nursery, first aid station and the inevitable gift shop, as well as some new works of art.
More than 4 million people visit each year.