The Vatican Museums originated as a group of sculptures collected by Pope Julius II (1503-1513) and placed in what today is the Cortile Ottagono within the museum complex.
The popes were among the first sovereigns who opened the art collections of their palaces to the public thus promoting knowledge of art history and culture.
As seen today, the Vatican Museums are a complex of different pontifical museums and galleries that began under the patronage of the popes Clement XIV (1769-1774) and Pius VI (1775-1799).
In fact, the Pio-Clementine Museum was named after these two popes, who set up this first major curatorial section. Later, Pius VII (1800-1823) considerably expanded the collections of Classical Antiquities, to which he added the Chiaromonti Museum and the Braccio Nuovo gallery. He also enriched the Epigraphic Collection, which was conserved in the Lapidary Gallery.