Barbara Jatta inside the Vatican Museums. Courtesy of agenpress.it
It has been a year since the first woman was named Director of the Vatican Museums by Pope Francis. Her name is Barbara Jatta, an art historian with vast experience previous to this role. When asked about being the first female in this role, she responded, “When I began working in the Vatican library over 20 years ago there were just three women. Today half there are women. Times change.”
Jatta graduated from La Sapienza University in Rome and went onto graduate studies in the UK, Portugal, and the USA. She then taught graphic arts in Naples and co-curated multiple exhibitions on Baroque art. She then went onto work in the Vatican library where she learned the internal workings of the vast Vatican collections.
Her new role as Director of the Vatican Museums entails overseeing over 1,000 employees of restorers, official guides and custodians. She is responsible for conserving the pieces within the Museums, but also controlling the large crowds that visit the Vatican each year. The Vatican Museums have over 200,000 pieces of art and have over 6 million annual visitors. Additionally, the Museums have seven laboratories for conservation and restoration.
A typical day includes meetings and emails. Many curators worldwide ask for pieces to loan art pieces from the Vatican Museums to put in exhibitions outside of Italy. These exhibitions are on display in Chile, Mexico, China and Russia.
Outside of her work life, she is married and has three children.