The Vatican Museums

The new director of the Vatican Museums doesn’t like crowds, but he’s going to find more effective ways of dealing with them.

When I went in 2005, I didn’t have to wait in line–or pay. I happened to bump into someone I knew in Piazza San Pietro, and he told me to come see him. So I called his secretary, and two days later walked up to the Bronze Doors of the Apostolic Palace. The Swiss Guards started wagging their fingers at me, but I said, “I have an appointment.” They became all kind and courteous and invited me in. I went to the reception desk, and found there was a problem–there was a diplomatic reception, and the Swiss Guards had blocked off a major corridor, and the person who was to meet me wasn’t able to get to me that way–I was told to go outside and around the corner to St. Anne’s gate. After missing each other, I finally connected with the person they had sent to get me, and was escorted through the back streets and squares and parking lots of Vatican City to a medieval papal library that is now the office of the person I was there to see. We chatted a while, and then he took me across a nearby square, spoke to the guard at a door, and let me in. I walked up the stairs and was in the Sistine Chapel. I then went backwards through the rest of the museum.