Founded in 1451 by Nicholas V, the Vatican Apostolic Library preserves and displays rare manuscripts from as far back as the third century. The Vatican Apostolic Library holds pivotal cultural documents that include letters from important historical figures; drawings and notes by artists and scientists such as Michelangelo and Galileo; and treaties from all eras, in all fields of learning, from all parts of the world.
Currently, the Vatican Apostolic Library maintains over 180,000 manuscripts (including 100,000 archival units), 1.6 million printed books, over 8,600 incunabula, more than 300,000 coins and medals, 150,000 prints, drawings and engravings, and over 150,000 photographs.
Today the Vatican Apostolic Library is a research institution for history, art, literature, law, philosophy, science, and theology. One of the main functions of this distinctive institution is to offer consultation services on the stored books through selected researchers and qualified members of the academic community. These services provide a valuable resource on the collected information, contributing to world history consolidation and the sharing of human knowledge.