Olga Raggio was born in Rome, Italy, to a Russian mother and an Italian father. She earned a diploma from the Vatican Library and obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Rome in 1949. She spoke six languages. In 1950, she joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as a junior research fellow. She became a specialist in Renaissance and Baroque sculpture of France and Italy and one of the great research curators of European art and culture in the course of her nearly 60-year career. She was one of the first women to head a department at the Met as chairwoman of European sculpture and decorative arts from 1971 to 2001. She also taught for many years at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University. She famously recognized a bust among objects held in a Swiss bank as a likeness of the 16th-century Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici by the great Renaissance sculptor Baccio Bandinelli, and acquired it for the Met. She wrote many scholarly articles and several books, including Volume 1 of The Gubbio Studiolo and Its Conservation, (1999).