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The Vatican Museums: Collection of Asian Art

A trip to the beautiful Italian capital of Rome is incomplete without venturing into the Vatican; the global home of the Catholic Church, the Vatican offers a unique insight into the vast history and cultural impact of Catholicism, as well as a closer insight into Italy’s overall contribution to culture, art, and even science.  


But what you may not know is that the Vatican Museums also house some of the world’s greatest collections of Asian Art. Let’s take a closer look. 

What are The Vatican Museums?

The Vatican Museums, housed within the walls of Vatican City, are a series of art museums that showcase an extensive collection of works amassed by the Roman Catholic Church over centuries. As one of the oldest and most significant collections in the world, the Vatican Museums boast a grand tapestry of cultural and artistic masterpieces, offering visitors a chance to journey through a splendid assortment of European art, antiquities, and ethnographic collections.


Founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, the Vatican Museums are home to renowned artworks like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, Raphael’s Rooms, and the ‘Laocoön and His Sons’ statue, among many others. But beyond the European narrative, the Museums also offer an immersive journey into other parts of the world through specialized collections, such as the Collection of Asian Art.

Anima Mundi: Asian Art in the Vatican Museums

While the Vatican is primarily known for its wide and vast collection of Italian art – with famous pieces including The School of Athens by Raphael, the Laocoön and His Sons sculpture, the Apollo Belvedere statue, The Transfiguration by Raphael, and The Last Judgment by Michelangelo, the Vatican also houses art from cultures and civilisations across the world, including Asian art.


These collections can be found in a section of the Vatican known as Anima Mundi, which translates to “soul of the world” in Latin. Also referred to as the Ethnological Museum, Pope Francis reopened this collection in 2019, and this museum is dedicated to showcasing non-European art and artifacts that have been collected by the Vatican over centuries.


While there are already plenty of foreign artifacts and paintings to enjoy within the current Anima Mundi museum, there may even be more coming in the close future. In 2017, China and the Vatican agreed to swap 40 art pieces in order to enrich each country’s respective art collections, so tourists in each country can enjoy a more diverse range of art and culture to enjoy. 

Why a Private Tour is a Must

As impressive as the Vatican Museums’ Asian Art Collection is, navigating this artistic labyrinth can be daunting without a guide. Opting for a small group Vatican tour is an ideal way to experience this expansive collection to the fullest, here’s why:

Expert Guides

A private tour is not merely about observing the works of art; it’s about understanding the cultural, historical, and religious contexts that birthed these masterpieces. Private tour guides are well-versed in the subtleties of these narratives, their expertise bringing to life the hidden histories and meanings behind each artifact.

Personalized Tour

On a small group Vatican tour, you’ll enjoy the benefits of personalized attention and the freedom to explore at your own pace, delving into the aspects of the collection that intrigue you the most. Furthermore, private tours typically offer priority access, a significant advantage considering the popularity of the Vatican Museums, allowing you to bypass long queues and have more time to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring artistic expressions of both Asia and Italy.

Intimate Experience

The exclusive nature of a private tour also allows for a more intimate, contemplative experience. Rather than feeling rushed or crowded, you have the space to truly appreciate and connect with the art, engrossed in the stories of ancient dynasties, spiritual traditions, and the incredible breadth of human creativity.

The Bottom Line

The Vatican Museums, with their vast array of artistic treasures, serve as a testimony to the global tapestry of human culture, and the Asian Art Collection is a vibrant thread in this weave. Offering an unparalleled journey into the depths of Asian history, religion, and artistic expression, it is an experience not to be missed.


A small group Vatican tour is the key to unlocking the full richness of this collection, enhancing the journey with expert insights, intimate settings, and a pace tailored to your curiosity. So, when planning your next visit to Vatican City, make sure to book your private tour to unravel the fascinating mysteries of Asian Art. The experience promises to be as enlightening as it is mesmerizing, a beautiful narrative of humanity written in the language of art.

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