The Foundation of the Vatican museums can be traced back to 1503, when the newly elected Pope Julius II della Rovere, a statue of Apollo in the inner courtyard of the Belvedere Palace, built by Pope Innocent VIII; led garden statue of its owner Church of St. Peter in chains. In 1506 the Laocoon was added to the collection, after its discovery on the Esquiline Hill before the eyes of Giuliano di Sangallo and Michelangelo Buonarroti.
Goals of artifacts were added during the next two centuries and the collections were eventually reorganised under Benedict XIV (1740-1758), Pope Clement XIII (1758-1769). They founded the Apostolic Library: museums (Museo Sacro-1756) the sacred and the profane (Museo Profano-1767).
The Christian Museum including relics from the catacombs which could not be preserved in situ, was founded by Pius IX in 1854 in the Lateran Palace and was transferred to the Vatican museums by Pope John XXIII.
Pope Pius XI inaugurated in 1932 the definitive headquarters of the Vatican Pinacoteca (art gallery), near the monumental entrance of the Vatican museums.
The Vatican museums, located within the State of Vatican City, are among the greatest museums in the world, since they display works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church over the centuries, including some of the most famous classical sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world.
Pope Julius II founded the museums in the 16th century. The Sistine Chapel with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and le Stanze della Segnatura decorated by Raphael are the visitor's route through the Vatican museums. They were visited by 4,310,083 people in the year 2007. The Vatican Museums broke the record of appearances in 2011 with just over 5 million people.