Photo Blog: Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel

Art History was one of my guilty pleasures in college. I knew there weren’t many job options through it outside of working in museums, but decided to major in it anyway simply because I love it. This side of Italy was a paradise. Exploring the ruins, museums, and forgotten frescoes would keep me occupied for much longer than I could stand.

I couldn’t wait to go inside the Vatican City to see works by Michelangelo, Raphael, Da Vinci, Caravaggio, and countless others. If you’re just as interested, make sure you buy your ticket in advance. The line to get in wrapped completely around the museum. It was really difficult for an avid planner like me to believe that so many people hadn’t thought ahead. With our ticket voucher, we were able to walk straight in. You can check your bags inside so you don’t have to worry about carrying around weight!

Here are some of my favorite works that I’m still so happy I could witness first hand. Not pictured: Leonardo Da Vinci’s St. Jerome. It was incredible to see the careful planning process behind Da Vinci’s work. The preliminary sketches and shading are still visible!

Raphael, Transfiguration

Raphael, Transfiguration


Caravaggio, Deposition

Caravaggio, Deposition


Trophime Bigot,  Irene cares for St. Sebastian

Trophime Bigot, Irene cares for St. Sebastian


Donato Creti, Astronomical observation This series was done to attempt to convince the pope of the importance of the Church having an observatory.

Donato Creti, Astronomical observation
This series was done to attempt to convince the pope of the importance of the Church having an observatory.


The pinecone of the Vatican gardens and Arnaldo Pomodoro's bronze sculpture

The pinecone of the Vatican gardens and Arnaldo Pomodoro’s bronze sculpture


Raphael's School of Athens! Located in the Stanza della Segnatura, part of the "Raphael Rooms"

Raphael’s School of Athens! Located in the Stanza della Segnatura, part of the “Raphael Rooms”


Oh, hi Raph.

Oh, hi Raph.


Beginning the Contemporary Art exhibition

Beginning the Contemporary Art exhibition

Along with the awe I felt from seeing these works, there was also an overpowering feeling of annoyance. Overcrowding. This goes for the insane amount of people inside the museum at one time along with too many art pieces in each room. It’s impossible to see everything you want to!

I’m not sure why the Vatican is hoarding so much art work. There are rooms where sculptures look like they are piled on top of each other. I realize that keeping a museum open takes a lot of money, but I feel that those pieces deserve to be admired and not just glanced at.

Exhibit A: the Vatican hoarding art... you couldn't even enter this room

Exhibit A: the Vatican hoarding art

The other problem within the museum and one that followed us throughout Italy was overcrowding. I suppose many people just came inside to see The Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel, because any exhibit surrounding them had turned into a consistent, slow-moving line. If you stopped to look at a work (hello, the amazing 20 foot tapestries?) you would be pushed. It was hot, stuffy, and just a bit too much.

Comparing the Vatican Museums to the Louvre in Paris, it was much less enjoyable. It has equally if not more impressive art but there was no space to sit, reflect, or rest. There are people with enough room to paint replicas in the Louvre for goodness sake! Once we reached Florence, I didn’t even want to see the Uffizi Gallery or the Art Academy because I didn’t want a repeat of the Vatican Museums. It really is a shame. Here’s some photos of what it’s like to visit in August:

The mosaic everyone is trying to look at

The mosaic everyone is trying to look at

If you can keep a good attitude, (I mean, you should, it’s worth it), waiting for you at the end of the exhibits is Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Full of world famous frescoes such as Last Judgement and Creation of Adam, I feel like this could be the one artwork that would intrigue anyone.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly overcrowded (Lonely Planet says 20,000 people visit per day!), but you have to stand and hurt your neck taking it all in. The scene of the Last Judgement is my favorite, along with God Separating Light from Darkness. To me, it’s worth your while to get a cheap guide explaining the scenes to you.

I even took an illegal photo! Honestly— I thought it was strange that I hadn’t seen any “no photo” signs, so I went ahead and whipped mine out. I was chastised after, but I guess it’s worth showing you guys now. It was a great ending to our day in the Vatican Museums!

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