HomeHistory of the Vatican MuseumsThe New Entrance for the Jubilee of 2000

Since early 2000 the Vatican Museums welcome visitors in a spacious new entrance that offers various services (security check, the cloak-room, visitor information, itineraries and guided tours, currency exchange, museum shop, nursery and first aid station). The structure is composed of three floors - the third is reserved for special exhibitions and meetings. From the second floor a monumental ramp, with inclined axis, leads the visitor to the exhibition areas through the Cortile delle Corrazze, which is covered by a glass and metal structure.

In his inaugural speech, Pope John Paul II defined the new structure as “the entrance that introduces that temple of art and culture which are the Vatican Museums”, which “represent at a cultural level one of the most important doors of the Holy See open on the world. From this space comes not only the functional but the symbolic value of heightened “capacity”, that is, more comfort to express the renewed will of the Church to seek dialogue with humanity, in the sign of art and culture, in accessing the heritage which history entrusted her”. Various artworks are displayed in the entrance. Among the ancient pieces is one particularly worth seeing: the large polychrome mosaic dating back to the 1st century A.D. Two works of contemporary art have been specially executed for the entrance : the marble sculpture by Giuliano Vangi entitled “Varcare la Soglia” and the bronze doors of the main entrance.

Polychrome mosaic

This mosaic was discovered in 1842 in a Roman villa on the eighth kilometre of the via Ardeatina on the outskirts of Rome. From 1855 to 1963 it was used as the floor in the Raphael Stanza of Heliodorus. In 1994 it was restored and is now displayed in the rear court of the new entrance to the Vatican Museums. In the middle of the mosaic there is a medusa’s head of considerable finesse. The surrounding area has a geometric decoration while the lower segment, corresponding to the original entrance of the Roman villa, presents a long row of ships, probably representing a port.

Cecco Bonanotte
La Porta Nuova", 1999
Fire-coated bronze

The doors of the new entrance to the Vatican Museums were created by the sculptor Cecco Bonanotte from the Marches region of Italy. Inspired by the forms of ancient portals, the artist used a modular structure made of square panels, transforming ancient sculptural elements with his original style. In his inaugural speech, the Holy Father stated that the surface encloses “the subject of Creation, which the artist symbolically evoked” and “invites the visitor to contemplate with wonder the mystery of the creator Spirit within the universe, within living creatures and, above all, within the human being”. Above the door the emblem of Pope John Paul II is placed among other papal symbols.

Front side

Back side

Giuliano Vangi
"Varcare la soglia" (Crossing the Threshold), 1999
Polychrome marbles

The Tuscan sculptor Giuliano Vangi dedicated this work to the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. During the inauguration, the Holy Father defined it “not as a celebratory work, but an invitation to reflect on the Mystery of Peter” and on his own pontificate, which has always accented the human person, “their dignity, their dramas and sufferings”, while keeping “alive the mission of helping humanity to ‘cross the threshold’, away from the constraint of materialism towards the freedom of faith…”. In this work, placed in the center of the large entrance hall, the double figure of the Pope, caught “in action and prayer”, accompanies and guides the figure of a man who exits from the marble block that constraints it. The sculpture is executed using different colored marbles in order to create a luminous and pictorial effect, from the transparency of the statuary marble to the warm shade of Sienna yellow.