Pope appoints first woman director of Vatican Museums

Barbara Jatta will replace Antonio Paolucci in January.

Pope Francis has appointed a new director of the Vatican Museums, Barbara Jatta, who will become the first woman to hold the prestigious position.

Jatta, who has been the deputy director of the Vatican Museums for the last six months, will succeed the outgoing director Antonio Paolucci on 1 January 2017.

Jatta will become the Vatican's most prominent female administrator, and her appointment is seen as being in line with the pope's wish to enhance the role of women at the Holy See.

Jatta will oversee an institution that last year attracted more than six million visitors and generates annual gross revenues of some €300 million, of which at least €40 million is profit.

Aged 54 and from Rome, Jatta is married with three children. She began work at the Vatican Apostolic Library in 1996 before becoming director of the library's Prints Cabinet in 2010.

Jatta has a liberal arts degree in letters from Rome's Sapienza University, a diploma in archives at the Vatican School of Paleography, and a specialisation in art history.

The Vatican Museums has 800 employees and its priceless collections comprise 70,000 artefacts as well as the Sistine Chapel with its fresco masterpieces by Michelangelo.

Its outgoing director, 77-year-old Paolucci, was a former Italian culture minister from 1995 to 1996. Paolucci is a renowned art historian of the Renaissance and was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.