Pio Clementino Museum: The Largest Art Display in Vatican!

Explore the history of Vatican City through the stunning 18th-century timeless collection of the Pio Clementino Museum!

Artists should take advantage of this exhibition in the Vatican Museum, as it is the largest art display in Vatican City

Visitors planning to explore the museum comprehensively must know all the best rooms to cover and time details.

Read further to find your favorite rooms to explore and the best artwork highlights of the Pio Clementino Museum! 

What is the Pio Clementino Museum?

Pio Clementino Museum
Image: Wikidata.org

The Pio-Clementino Museum is one of the Vatican Museum’s major sections. 

It is named after two popes, Pope Clement XIV and Pope Pius VI, who were responsible for its establishment and expansion in the late 18th century. 

This museum is renowned for its collection of Greek and Roman sculptures, which are among the most important in the world. 

It covers a series of rooms and galleries filled with classical sculptures collected or commissioned by the popes over centuries.

How many Rooms are there in the Pio Clementino Museum?

The Pio-Clementino Museum covers a series of rooms and galleries, each dedicated to showcasing different aspects of ancient Greek and Roman art. 

The exact number of rooms can vary depending on how you count them, as they include larger halls, smaller rooms, and connecting galleries.

The museum key areas of the Pio Clementino Museum are:

Square Vestibule & Cabinet of Apoxyomenos 

Square Vestibule & Cabinet of Apoxyomenos 
Image: Romapedia.blogspot.com

Visitors can see the monumental Sarcophagus of the famous Roman consul, Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus! 

The highlight of this room is the Cabinet of Apoxyomenos, which houses a Greek bust statue of an athlete made in 320 BC. 

He performs the Roman tradition of removing the sand and oil from its body with a spoon called Strigil before a tournament.

Greek Cross Hall

The Greek Cross Hall is quite a popular room, housing two massive porphyry sarcophagi of St. Helena and Constantia!  

The main attraction of the Greek Cross Hall is the stunning mosaic floor, which has a mosaic of the Greek Goddess Athena. 

The blue stone of the mosaic is lapis lazuli, a rare stone, as expensive as gold!

The Sala Rotonda (Round Hall)

The Sala Rotonda (Round Hall)
Image: Wikipedia.org

Modeled on the Pantheon and features a domed ceiling and a massive basin from Nero’s Golden House.

The Poryphyry basin, Nero’s Bathtub, at the center, is one of the most valuable art pieces of the Vatican, which cost €2 billion!

The wall contains a series of niches displaying statues taller than people divided by Roman-style columns, with small bust sculptures at the front of each. 

The Sala delle Muse (Hall of the Muses)

This Room houses the statues of the Muses found in the Villa of Cassius near Tivoli and the famous Belvedere Torso.

It is a paradise for mythological lovers and the ceiling of this hall is covered with beautiful frescos, done by Tommaso Conca, depicting Apollo and the Muses. 

The walls of the Hall of Muses are painted a deep red color, which makes the white marble statues stand out. 

The Sala degli Animali (Hall of Animals) 

The Sala degli Animali
Image: Wikipedia.org

A room filled with animal sculptures, both realistic and mythological, and looks like a stone zoo! 

The Hall of Animals is an excellent exploration spot for kids in the Pio Clementino Museum!

Colored marble was used to craft the plumage and fur coats on some of the animals, making them appear alive!  

The Gabinetto delle Maschere (Cabinet of the Masks)

Named after the mosaic on its floor, originally from Hadrian’s Villa, with theatre-like masks and bucolic scene designs.

The Cabinet of Masks room is known for its female sculptures, crafted so perfectly that they look real! 

Greek mythological lovers can see beautiful sculptures of the Goddess Aphrodite, the three Graces, and more. 

The Sala dei Busti (Hall of Busts)

The Sala dei Busti
Image: Wikipedia.org

At the end of the Gallery of Statues is a hall of busts, housing a vast collection of Greek and Roman busts. 

It is like exploring a visual history textbook, as each bust perfectly captures the facial features of all the famous figures on display! 

History buffs will enjoy identifying their favorite Roman rulers among these and having a glimpse of the lifestyle the people led.  

The Galleria delle Statue (Gallery of Statues)

The Gallery of Statues is not only famous for its beautiful sculptures, the most famous being Ariadne, but also its delicately painted walls!

Before the Garden of Statues renovation, the walls were covered in mini-landscape and city paintings.

You cannot see these anymore, but the lunettes have seen small paintings of Cupid by the famous Italian painter Pinturicchio! 

The Galleria dei Candelabri (Gallery of the Candelabra)

The Galleria dei Candelabri
Image: Facebook.com(Baccotours)

The gallery is named after the two massive marble candelabra sticks in the gallery placed in all six sections of the room. 

It houses stunning relics, like a giant toe from a 13-meter-tall statue in the Colosseum in the 1880s!  

You can also see the Coat of Arms of Pope Leo XIII at the center of the Gallery, made from the captivating lapis lazuli stone. 

Cortile delle Statue (Octagonal Court)

The well-maintained Octagonal Courtyard is the most famous in the Vatican Museum for the Apollo Belvedere statue. 

Nature lovers can also enjoy seeing the beautiful flowering plants in the Octagonal court as a break from marble sculptures. 

We highly recommend a Vatican Museum guided tour of this famous room, as it has so many fun stories to tell! 

The Sala della Biga (Hall of the Chariot) 

The Sala della Biga
Image: Facebook.com(Baccotours)

Contains the ancient Roman biga standing at its center, made by Francesco Antonio Franzoni in 1788!

The chariot has beautiful flowering carvings on its body, and two life-like horses are at the front. 

The hall is a tribute to athletes worldwide, displaying statues of competitions on wrestling, discus throwing, and more!

Do not leave the Vatican Museum after exploring the Pio Clementino Museum; make the most of your ticket by exploring other famous spots. 

Visitors planning to explore the Sistine Chapel after leaving the Pio Clementino Museum should check out our What to See in the Sistine Chapel article!  

Which are the most famous Pio Clementino Museum Rooms to Explore? 

The Pio Clementino Museum houses the most stunning Greek and Roman artwork in the Vatican City, so deciding on a few rooms to visit can be hard. 

The most famous Pio Clementino Museum rooms you must add to your schedule are:

  • Cabinet of the Masks
  • Greek Cross Gallery 
  • Round Room
  • Octagonal Court

Read further to discover why these particular Pio Clementino Museum rooms are so famous!  

Which is the most famous Artwork in the Pio Clementino Museum? 

The Statue of Laocoon and His Sons is the most famous artwork in the Pio Clementino Museum, inspired by Virgil’s famous Latin poem Aeneid! 

This statue stands in the Octagonal Court and is an original Roman statue, making it the oldest artwork in the Vatican Museums! 

Laocoon, a priest of the God Apollo in Troy, was punished with his sons for warning the City against taking in the wooden horse.

Must-see artworks in the Pio Clementino Museum Collection

The Pio Clementino collection is the largest in the Vatican Museum and has many stunning art pieces, so it can be difficult to see all in one day.

Apart from the Laocoon statue, the other famous artworks with interesting backstories in Pio Clementino Museums are as follows: 

The Apollo del Belvedere

This statue depicts the Greek God Apollo standing in a triumphant pose, which looks life-like because of its elegance!  

It is the most famous art piece in the Octagonal Courtyard, made by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli. 

Artists worldwide use this statue as an inspiration for their sculptures, as it is the best-known classical sculpture! 

Nero’s Bathtub

The Bathtub stands in the Sala Rotunda and is made from the expensive and rare Egyptian porphyry purple marble.

Only Roman emperors used this color as it was costly and hard to achieve, even on fabrics.

It is estimated to be the most expensive art piece in the Vatican! 

Hercules Statue

The statue was found in the area of Pompey’s Theatre and can be seen in the Round Room.

It depicts Hercules holding a Nemean lion’s skin in one hand and Hesperides apples in the other as he leans on a club.

This Heracles statue is made completely from bronze, but it gleams like gold in the Museum! 

The Belvedere Torso

This is a unique status, depicting the body of a man with no limbs, and is placed at the center of the Hall of Muses.

People believe it is believed to be the Greek hero Ajax from the Trojan War! 

After the reconstruction of the iconography, experts found that the statue’s head used to lean sadly to the right as he held a sword in hand. 

The Braschi Antinous 

This sculpture stands in the Round Room, depicting Emperor Hadrian, everyone’s favorite Roman ruler!

He wears a beautiful crown of pinecones and ivy berries, with deep Greek symbolism and elegant beauty. 

Antinous was a famous deity, who triumphed over death, and the statue is a must-see for mythology lovers! 

Sarcophagi of Helena and Costantia

The Sarcophagi of Helena and Costantia stand opposite each other in the Greek Cross Hall. 

They are famous for their intricate Christian motifs and historical significance.

Costantia’s Sacrophagi has beautiful flowering and animal carvings on all sides which artists love observing! 

Pio Clementino Museum Hours and Best Time to Visit 

The Pio Clementino Museum timings are the same as the Vatican Museum timings.

The Vatican Museum opens at 8 am and closes at 7 pm, from Monday to Saturday.

It is closed on Sundays, except the last Sunday of the month, when all visitors can enter for free!

On the last Sunday, the Pio Clementino Museum in the Vatican Museum is open from 9 am to 2 pm.

The last entry is at 12.30 pm on this last Sunday.

The Pio Clementino Museum is the least crowded before 10 am and around 1 pm.

We do not recommend visiting the Museum on Saturdays and the last free Sunday of the month. 

What tickets do you need to explore the Pio Clementino Museum?

Vatican Museum tickets can be used for the Pio Clementino Museum access, as it is inside the same building. 

Visitors can buy the Vatican City Museum tickets from the Museum’s entrance gate.

However, we recommend buying your tickets online to avoid long queues and currency exchange problems. 

The standard Vatican Museum ticket, with access to the Sistine Chapel, costs €31 for adults.

Children between the ages of 6 and 17 years receive a discounted entrance ticket for €20.

History buffs and art lovers can also enjoy a guided tour of the Vatican Museum, including the Pio Clementino Museum, at €90. 

Infants 5 years and under can enter the museum for free! 

How to get to the Pio Clementino Museum?

The Pio Clementino Museum is on the left side of the entrance of the Vatican Museum. 

You will find it after the Gallery of Candelabra and the Gallery of Maps, beside the Octogonal courtyard, which is a part of the Pio Clementino Museum. 

To enter the Vatican City directly near the Vatican Museum, we recommend you choose the Viale Vaticano entrance.

Visitors can discover great public transportation methods to get to the Vatican Museum from our Guide on How to Get to Vatican City article! 

History Behind Pio Clementino Museum?

Pope Clement XIV founded the Pio Clementino Museum in the 18th century, and Pope Pius VI helped to grow the collection. 

The Museum began with Pope Clement’s Fusconi and Mattei collections in 1771.

Pope Pius VI gave the museum an attractive entrance and appointed architects to construct the Scala Simonetta and Four Gates Atrium.

Pio Clementine Museum got its name from Pope Clement. 

Alessandro Dori, Giuseppe Camporses, and Michelangelo Simonetti were the architects responsible for Pio Clementino’s construction.

They also restored most of the damaged work, and you can now see these on display in the Museum! 

The Museum lost some of its best artworks to Napoleon in 1797 as per the Treaty of Tolentino. 

The relics and artworks were all sent to be on display in Paris. 

With the hard work of Antonio Canova and Napoleon’s defeat, the Pio Clementino Museum got all of its art back in the 1800s! 

Tips for the Best Experience at Pio Clementino Museum

Here are some helpful tips to ensure you have a comfortable experience in the Pio Clementino Museum!

  • Book your Pio Clementino Museum entry tickets in advance. Booking online ensures you can get in at your desired time and save money!
  • Follow the Vatican dress code when visiting. You will not be allowed to enter if you are not wearing modest clothing.
  • Wear comfortable shoes so you can stand for long hours in the Pio Clementino Museum. 
  • Carry along a plastic water bottle to sip in the Museum.
  • Do not touch any of the sculptures or paintings in the Pio Clementino Museum. 
  • Flash photography is not allowed inside the Vatican Museum.  

FAQs for Pio Clementino Museum 

What is the history of the Pio Clementino Museum?

Pio Clementino Museum got its name from the founder, Pope Clement XVI. The Museum was founded in the 18th century. Pope Pius VI helped enlarge the Museum. 

What is the ticket price for the Pio Clementino Museum?

The standard Pio Clementino Museum ticket with access to the entire Vatican Museum costs €31. Don’t forget to look for age-based discounts! 

Which two artists are best known for their works in the Vatican?

Michelangelo and Raphael are the best artists in the Vatican Museum. You can see Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s Rooms on the second floor. 

Is the Pio Clementino Musuem free to visit?

Visitors must buy a ticket to visit the Pio Clementino Museum. You can visit the museum for free on the last Sunday of the month. 

Is photography allowed in the Pio Clementino Museum?

Photography without flash is allowed in the Pio Clementino Museum. 

How long will it take to explore the Pio Clementino Museum?

It will take around 2 hours to explore the Pio Clementino Museum. You can save more time by visiting only the most popular rooms in the museum. 

At what time of the year is the Pio Clementino Museum the least crowded? 

September to February is the best time to visit the Pio Clementino Museum. Vatican City is the least crowded in these months.

Featured Image: Commons.wikimedia.org

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