Vatican - Libraries and museums

The Apostolic Library of the Vatican is one of the most famous in the world. Founded in 1450 by Pope Nicholas V, the collection includes more than 1.1 million books, 72,000 manuscripts, 8,300 incunabula, 80,000 archival files, and 100,000 engravings. The Vatican Secret Archives, so called because originally they were strictly private records of the Vatican affairs, were opened to students in 1880. There are, in addition, several university and college libraries, many of which hold impressive historical collections. Literary scholars come from all over the world to study the collection of manuscripts. In 1994, librarians began entering the entire card catalogue of printed books into a computerized file accessible via the Internet.

Besides over a dozen museums, some of which figure among the greatest in the world, Vatican City includes as part of its decoration frescoes painted by Raphael (in the Stanze), Michelangelo (in the Sistine and Pauline Chapels), and other great Renaissance artists. In April 1994, after more than 14 years of careful cleaning, Michelangelo's frescoes became fully visible again. Among the museums in the Vatican are the Pius Clementine, the Chiaramonti, and New Wing (exhibiting antique sculpture); the Gregorian Etruscan and the Gregorian Egyptian museums; the Pinacoteca (paintings); the Collection of Modern Religious Art; the frescoed chapels, rooms, and galleries; and the Sacred and the Profane museums, which are administered by the Vatican Library.

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