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Arts & Museums
On Pope Paul VI's order, Vatican Historical Museum was established in the year 1973 and it remains one of the parts of the popular Vatican Museums. This museum boasts of a rare assemblage of portraits of all pontiffs from the 16th Century till today. Visitors can also find some unique objects of Papal Military Corps dating back to the 17th Century and ancient religious belongings used by papacy rituals. Motorcars and carriages used by cardinals and popes of the bygone era are also on display at the Vatican Historical Museum.
Musei Vaticani's unique art collection is exhibited in surroundings of unparalleled beauty. The magnificent Raphael Rooms are among the masterpieces of the collection, where each room is decorated with frescoes by great artists. The best known is The School of Athens, in which contemporary artists appear as classical characters (Leonardo da Vinci, for example, appears as Plato). The Sistine Chapel is the museum's finest treasure, and features Michelangelo's famous Last Judgement. He was one of many artists including Perugino, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Pinturicchio who contributed to the chapel.
This part of the Vatican Museums is totally devoted to Egypt. The real examples of sarcophagi, burial items, mummies and statues are perfect for captivating the imagination of every child. The Museum also provides a nice little guided tour for smaller children called Alice nei Musei delle Meraviglie (Alice in Museum Wonderland).
This museum is dedicated to the Carabinieri, a section of the armed forces. The rooms at Museo Storico dell'Arma dei Carabinieri have black carpets with a red stripe to match their uniform. Photographs and prints show the Carabinieri carrying out their duties or escorting famous members of Italian political life. Accounts from as early as 1814 are exhibited together with a series of photographs of Alberto Tombs, the Carabinieri skiing champion. Admission: Free.
This museum is small but holds a valuable collection of scientific instruments used in the study of stars throughout the ages. Here you will find telescopes, lenses, protractors, as well as sundials, hourglasses and clocks, up to the present day. The first portable clocks, originating in the 17th Century, are on display, even though they weren't very precise. The conflict between the Church and Science is also referred to in the decrees issued by the Inquisition that branded Copernicus and Galileo heretics. The museum was burgled about 20, but the recovery of the stolen artifacts meant it could be reopened a year or so later. Arturo Wolynskia, a Polish scholar, donated the collection to the Italians in 1882. Admission: Free.
Pope Gregory XIII had commissioned Ignacio Danti to design the Gallery of Maps in the Belvedere Courtyard of the Vatican. Not less than 40 maps are painted along the walls illustrating all regions of Italy; besides every region is a detailed depiction of its major city. Completed in 1580, only 18 months after its delegation, every map is accompanied by an interesting historical event that happened there. Given the limited technology of the time, the maps are very accurate and alluring enough to make visitors stop in wonder.
ARTROM Gallery has several rotating exhibits that are worth looking at for their uniqueness. The highlights of the exhibits here are their unique medium of expression and the thematics of the artwork. A must go for all art lovers.
Even non-specialists will find this museum interesting where military activities both during wartime and peace are documented. Of the objects on display, some belonged to the Counts of Cavour; there is the first military aeroplane, scientific instrumentation, and models of battle scenes.Then there are the means of military communication such as carrier pigeons, the telegraph and the radio. Upstairs there is a display of military architectures from prehistoric forts to reconstructions of castles. The archive has an interesting collection of documents and photographs. Admission: Free.
One of the most different museums, Museum of the Sanitary Arts is sure a must visit spot! The museum helps to understand how the students are taught the art of healing and sanitation through the use of anatomical wax models. The museum also exhibits some bottled creatures all around the room that gives an effect of a scientists' lab. Do not miss the sight of the Siamese twins among other specimens. Admission is free. Call ahead for more information.
Foundling Wheel—Santo Spirito Hospital Museum is the only museum of its kind in Italy. The hospital built in the 8th century was also probably the first of its kind in Europe. It was built by Ina—the Saxon King, as an aid and help to the pilgrims. Today, it is a museum with a conference centre and a concert hall. It was also called the Foundling Hospital because it received new-born abandoned babies left on the wheel, meant for the purpose, outside the hospital. The wheel meant that the parents abandoning the babies will remain anonymous. Visit the place and be touched by this wheel of service.
The splendid fortress of Castel Sant'Angelo was originally built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian in 139 CE. In the 10th Century CE it was transformed into a castle, then, 500 years later, into the elegant residence of Pope Alexander VI Borgia. Michelangelo designed the marvelous main court for Pope Leo X and many of the rooms inside are decorated with frescoes of great beauty. It is also been used to house prisoners, including the sculptor Benvenuto Cellini. The terrace offers a fine view of the river Tiber and opera lovers will know that this was where the final act of Giacomo Puccini's opera Tosca (1900) took place. The building is now a museum with a fine collection of suits of armor which is open to the public.
Hendrik Christian Andersen was a Norwegian-born American sculptor and painter whose travels brought him to Rome, which he then made his home. Upon his death in 1940, his home and belongings were bequeathed to the Government of Italy, after which his living quarters were transformed into a museum. Many of his own sculptures are housed here, as well as works by many contemporary artists. Andersen firmly believed in the concept of a 'World City', where the surroundings would be beautified with art, and which, in his mind, would lead towards a Utopian state. This theme is of the utmost significance in the gallery, filled as it is with monumental pieces on themes such as maternity and love, which would beautify the buildings in his ideal city.