The Vatican appoints its first female museum head – but it can go further

By Jonathan Jones

Hiring art historian Barbara Jatta is another progressive move from the Vatican Museums – now it must open up its secret wonders to the public

Which museum will be the next to appoint a female director? Most of the world’s great visual arts institutions remain firmly under male control. The current bosses of the British Museum and the National Gallery in London are men, as are the directors of the Prado in Madrid, the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. So which groundbreaking top-rank art museum will be run by a woman from 1 January 2017?

It is one of the oldest and grandest of them all, and you will find it at the heart of perhaps the most male-dominated enclave in Europe. The new director of the Vatican Museums, whose collections started to be amassed in the Renaissance, is the Italian art historian Barbara Jatta, who previously curated prints there and rose to be deputy director. She has now been appointed by Pope Francis to succeed the current 77-year-old director, Antonio Paolucci, in the new year.

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