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Barbara Jatta Named First Female Director of Vatican Museums

Francis X. Rocca reports in the Wall Street Journal that Pope Francis has appointed art historian Barbara Jatta as the first female director of the Vatican Museums.

The museums’ collection includes the Sistine Chapel frescoes by Michelangelo, frescoes by Raphael such as The School of Athens, 1509–1511, and 70,000 other objects dating back from antiquity through the twentieth century. Jatta, who is a native of Rome, has worked at the Vatican since 1996 mostly within the Vatican Library, where she oversaw its collection of rare prints. She has also previously taught at the University of Naples.

During her predecessor Antonio Paolucci’s tenure, the museums experienced a surge in attendance, with a forty percent increase in the number of visitors between 2007 and 2015. New air conditioning was installed in the Sistine Chapel to filter out pollutants brought in by the crowds, as well as a new lighting system to increase illumination by at least five times while cutting energy consumption by at least sixty percent.