The works displayed in the Vatican Museums cover more than four thousand years of civilization. One can begin with the Egyptians and continue with the Romans and the Renaissance, arriving at contemporary art. Within the museums which occupy much of the Vatican Palace one can encounter one of the greatest concentrations of masterpieces in the world.
In 1506 Pope Julius II, pursuing the ideals of the Renaissance, began to display his collection of ancient works of art, such as the Laocoön and the Apollo of the Belvedere. He invited artists of the time to view them in what was called the Little courtyard of the Belvedere – what we now know as the Octagonal Courtyard. The collections were increased over the centuries, many of which were gifts presented to the Popes and invaluable items related to the work of the Church. Some of the works, such as those found in the Sistine Chapel and the Rafael Rooms were created for a specific purpose or monument.
The Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, and the New York Chapter, were founded in the early 1980’s to help support artistic conservation projects, donate equipment for restoration laboratories, and assist in the restructuring of the museums. For more than 30 years Patrons from throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe have shown their support and concern through the conservation of the Vatican patrimony of art which stands as the most unique collection in the world.