New Library acquisition: Indicazione antiquaria del Pontificio Museo Pio-Clementino in Vaticano

Author: Tracy Bergstrom

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has recently acquired the following item: 

Pasquale Massi.  Indicazione antiquaria del Pontificio Museo Pio-Clementino in Vaticano - Catalogue indicatif des antiquitès composant le Musèe Pie-Clèmentin au Vatican.  Rome: Presso i Lazzarini, 1792.  First edition; parallel texts in Italian and French. 

Today’s Vatican museums are a composite of multiple pontifical museums and galleries begun under the patronage of popes Clement XIV (1769-1774) and Pius VI (1775-1799).  This room-by-room guide leads visitors on a walking tour through the earliest curatorial museum of the Vatican complex, the Museo Pio-Clementino.  Written by Pasquale Massi of Cesena, identified as the custode del museo stesso, the text proves an invaluable record of the museum’s initial organization, arrangement, and architecture.

Massi writes in the introduction that he has designed the guide for portability and ease of use by visitors.   The text directs us down one side of each room with brief descriptions of individual objects before reversing and guiding us along the opposite path.  Along the way, visitors are encouraged to make special note of works such as the gruppo meraviglioso di Laocoonte and other recognizable treasures of the museum’s collections.