"The Vatican Museums, the Museum of Museums" are not limited to welcoming the rich collections of art, archeology and ethno-anthropology created by the Popes over the centuries, but also include some of the most exclusive and artistically significant places of the Apostolic Palaces.
Before even retracing the history of museum collections, the story can not but dwell on the environments chosen in different eras by the Popes as private places of residence or prayer. Starting in chronological order, from the Niccolina Chapel and from the Borgia Apartment.
In the first year of his Pontificate, Pope Nicholas V Parentucelli calls Beato Angelico to decorate the private chapel of his apartments, located in the Apostolic Palace. Among the greatest humanists of the time, the Pontiff commissioned to the famous artist, as well as Dominican friar, a cycle of frescoes dedicated to Santo Stefano and San Lorenzo: Fra Angelico depicts on the walls episodes that narrate moments of their life, taken from the "Acts of the Apostles ".
The decorations, which appear rich in details and cultured quotations, make the Cappella Niccolina a perfect example of the conjunction between religious and humanistic thought of fifteenth-century pictorial art.
Between 1995 and 1996 a masterful restoration was carried out on the works of the Angelico that decorate the ancient private place of prayer of Niccolò V.
Pope Alexander VI Borgia, who rose to the papal throne in 1492, chose to live in the most private wing of the Apostolic Palace and commissioned its decoration to Bernardino di Betto, known as Pinturicchio. In 1494 the work is completed and a wonderful cycle of frescoes decorates the different environments that follow each other. On the death of the Pope, the abandonment of the rooms follows. It is only at the end of the nineteenth century that the Borgia Apartment is open to the public.
Currently, most of the rooms commissioned by Pope Alexander VI are destined for the exhibition of the Contemporary Art Collection inaugurated in 1973 by Paul VI.