Vatican Gregorian Profane Museum

The Vatican's "profane" museum is filled with a potpourri of pagan art—mostly Greek

Vatican Museums—Gregorian Profane Museum
Viale Vaticano (on the north side of the Vatican City walls, between where Via Santamaura and the Via Tunisi staircase hit Viale Vaticano; about a 5–10 minute walk around the walls from St. Peter's).
tel. +39-06-6988-4676 or 06-6988-4947
www.museivaticani.va or www.vatican.va
Adm
Book tickets: Select Italy or Viator.com

Open Mon–Sat 9am–6pm (last entry: 4pm)
* May 3–July 16 and Sept 6–Oct 25 also open Fridays 7–11pm with advance booking (» more)
* Open the last Sun of each month 9:30am–2pm—and it's free!... and terribly crowded

* For other closed dates, see "tips" below

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An ancient Greek floor mosaics in the Vatican's Gregorian Profane Museum
An ancient Greek floor mosaic of an "unswept floor" in the Vatican's Gregorian Profane Museum. (See the little mouse right above the word "mosaic" in this caption?)
The "profane" (by which they mean "pagan") museum houses antiquities from the Roman and Greek eras, including some great bits of Greek sculpture.

Look for the 5th-century BC stele showing a slave boy handing his master a flask of oil, a couple of fragments off the Parthenon (including the head of one of Athena's horses), bunches of quality sarcophagi.

My favorite: the wonderfully silly Heraclitus Mosaic, a dining room floor mosaic masterfully tromp-l'oeil'ed to look eternally post-banquet, with leftover bits of food fallen to the ground and even a mosaic mouse nibbling on the mosaic crumbs. (Look closely: All the food—and the mouse—has shaded tiles casting a faint "shadow" to make it all look more 3D. Brilliant!)

The Gregorian Profane Museum, Pio Christian Museum, and Missionary-Ethnographic Museum are all housed in the 1960s structure through which you exit the Vatican complex. Of the lot, this is the best one—still, only bother if you have the stamina for a bit more.

The Vatican Museums
★★★ Pinacoteca (Painting Gallery)
Papal Apartments
    ★★ Raphael Rooms
    Borgia Apartments
    Chapel of Nicholas V
★★★ Sistine Chapel
Pio-Clementine Museum
Modern Religious Art
Chiaramonti/New Wing
Gregorian Egyptian Museum
Gregorian Etruscan Museum
Gregorian Profane Museum
Pio Christian Museum
Missionary-Ethnological Museum
Vatican Gardens

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This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in May 2013. All information was accurate at the time.

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