5,459 million people visited the Vatican Museums in 2013.
"We reached almost five and a half million. The Pope Francis effect can be felt even in the Vatican museums," Vatican Museums director Antonio Paolucci said.
The enthusiasm for the impressive achievement is however tempered by concerns about the safeguard and preservation of one of the most important artistic heritage of the world, which will have to withstand the increasing pressure of tourists.
In 2014, Easter celebrations and the upcoming canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II in Rome will draw Catholics from all over the world. Huge numbers of people are expected to arrive in the capital and the museums are preparing to respond by investing more resources in prevention.
The first to gear up for this is the Sistine Chapel, which will be adding a new LED lighting that will provide energy savings of 60%. Other measures include air exchange safety, the abatement of pollutants, and the control of temperature and humidity thanks to a system that will be tested in May 2014.