The Vatican Museums Photo Library has as its main objectives the conservation, protection, enhancement, promotion and study of an important photographic heritage. It provides advice as well as historical and technical information, and assists researchers in their iconographic studies.
The collection includes not only the archives relating to the Museums collections, but also many historic photographs depicting views, landscapes, the city, buildings and monuments in Rome, as well as other Italian or foreign cities.
The current photographic patrimony entrusted to the care of the Office comprises of approximately 350,000 original negatives in black and white (with respective printed positives), 70,000 colour images on film (partly acquired also in digital format) and 49,000 glass plates, which constitute the full collection of historical archives. Prominent among these is the Romualdo Moscioni (1849-1925) Archive, consisting of 15,700 plates.
Over time, many other photographic archives have been identified: those of Anderson, Faraglia, Felici and Brogi. However, of particular relevance is the Anderson Sistine Chapel Universal Judgement Archive (photographic campaign by Domenico Anderson in 1933).
In addition, the following archives have been constituted and are under development: Rome, Arches, Major Basilicas, Castel Sant’Angelo, Churches, Colosseum, Forums, Squares and Fountains, and Streets and Alleys. Of note is a miscellany of photographic documents relating to works and artefacts from private Italian and foreign collections, as well as the VCS Events Archive, which includes rich documentation of anthropological subjects and events linked to the various Pontiffs.
The Photo Library collaborates with many other bodies, institutions and entities: the Vatican Apostolic Library, L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican Television Centre, the ICCD - Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione (Central Institute for Cataloguing and Documentation), the Istituto Centrale per la Grafica (National Institute for Graphic Design), the Municipal Photographic Archive of Rome, the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz and the American Academy in Rome.
The Photo Library is a Service accessible both to the Museums internal staff and to external applicants. It is possible to consult the research tools and photographic material by appointment.
To enable the methods of access and consultation to be agreed satisfactorily, it is advisable to contact the Office well in advance, specifying the subject and purpose of the research.
University students and doctoral candidates are required to provide a letter of presentation signed by their tutor.
Paola Di Giammaria, Director
+39 06 69881427