First, I advise reading my "Sistine Must-Knows" entry for details on how to semi-privately enjoy the top attraction as well as directions/times/admission fees. If using/following these hints, it might seem kind of pointless to further explore the Vatican Museum, but I'm not sure which nets more insanity - skipping all else that's there or trying to take it all in!
I'd have to presume the Vatican Museum encompasses one of the top three art collections in the world. I write "presume" because before my experience here, I never considered myself the museum type; especially one for the arts. How that did change! Even not knowing much about anything when it comes to paintings, sculptures and other forms of masterpieces, I was recognizing "original works" that I'd seen in Bibles, story and textbooks all my life. Those looking to see familiars of the same, the Pinacoteca wing contained the largest collection of 15-19th century paintings including 'The Transfiguration'; the painting Raphael had almost completed before his death. The Pinacoteca areas are all but darkened allowing smaller spotlights to further showcase the impressive works.
The Eyewitness Rome has a pretty indepth key for all the different floors/wing with detailed information about highlights...but I didn't use it. I was surrounded, engulfed by art from the frescoed gold-gilted ceilings to the mosaic tiled floors. There's not enough film in Rome to photograph all the impressive, intriguing things you'll see; photos allowed everywhere but in the Sistine Chapel. And aside from the "mental overload intake" on the arts, take time to glance at some of your fellow tourists. That dazed look on their faces will likely best summarize what you'll be feeling but can't explain!
The lower hallway off the courtyard dedicated to Greek & Roman art reminded me of some gradeschool Show & Tell art project at PTA night. There was every size of head-bust and miniature sculptures laid out on tables/shelves, individually labeled, intact or severely mangled and all but vyeing for one's attention like could only come from a proud parent of their child's work. Otherwise, it was too much!
Continuing back thru the opened end of this exhibition hall was a good path for checking out the Bramante Stairway; a circular path built in a square tower as an entrance to the once palace. This area also feeds into rooms with larger sculptures; the Laocoon Trojan Priest (photo posted) a must see, and the Egyptian/Animal sections.
There's "supposed" to be a one-way course to follow through the museum, though, it'd seem, most don't. Was also disappointed not to find a good photographing angle for the "well shot" spiral stairway ramp which was used for the exit - not the entrance.