If you love art and Italy, chances are you’ve made more than one trip to Florence. Maybe you’ve seen the most important museums and so think you’ve seen it all? But the museum and exhibition scene in Florence is constantly changing: we’ve collected Florence Museum news, openings & renovations you’ll want to check out.
Florence Museums: changes at the Uffizi
The Uffizi is the oldest museum in Florence so you might expect it to be rather static. But in recent years, thanks to a major renovation and expansion plan, it has been changing faster than we can keep up with it!
A project called “grandi Uffizi” has been going on for well over a decade and involves a series of expansions and moves, renovations of rooms, shifting and reorganizing to (hopefully) make the museum more pleasant to visit and easier to navigate (in the meantime, here our our tips for the perfect Uffizi visit).
In the past few years, the rooms dedicated to the most important artists of the Renaissance have been progressively renovated and rehung with climate control, protection for the artworks, and new displays. The first was Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo, which was given much more room than previously, and now has become one of visitors’ favourite rooms. Then we witnessed a new display for the famous works by Botticelli in a room that you would hardly recognize if you’re used to the large old room in which the Birth of Venus and the Primavera were previously displayed. Caravaggio and Raphael got their new displays in 2018.
In addition, another section of the Uffizi is now open to the public – the Contini Bonacossi collection which contains a number of works that we’ve rarely or never seen. Very exciting – and definitely worth a return trip, don’t you think?
The Uffizi has also been working towards making its collections available online to art lovers and scholars, having recently revealed a newly revised online photo catalogue of the entire collection, which you can freely consult at http://fotoinventari.uffizi.it.
New and renovated museums in Florence
The past few years have seen the opening of a few brand new museums in Florence – or major renovations – which is truly exceptional in this economy! These spaces provide an excuse to keep coming back.
If you’re interested in fashion, Gucci Garden in piazza della Signoria received a total makeover, reopening in Spring 2018. This exploration of the famed Italian brand founded in Florence in 1921 also features a fun gift shop and restaurant on the ground floor directed by triple-Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana.
A new entry into the Florence museum scene is the Casamonti Collection at the end of via Tornabuoni (on the same piazza – Santa Trinità – as the Ferragamo museum, speaking of fashion). Open daily upon reservation, this impressive collection of modern Italian art has been generously made available to the public by Roberto Casamonti, collector and owner of Tornabuoni Arte gallery. The collection has been curated into two main exhibitions which will cycle annually: we’re starting with the 20th century European masters until the 1960s, while in May 2019 a new display will include works from the 1970s through today. You can read a longer review of the museum here.
The Opera del Duomo museum, located behind the great dome, was closed for restoration and expansion and reopened in October 2015 with a brand new display that is truly worth a visit. A combined ticket gets you in here and to the entire Duomo complex (including walking up the belltower or dome). The museum finally gives space and narrative to the many important works of art created for the Duomo complex but removed either for preservation or for changes to its decoration over the centuries. The new museum incorporates a large space that was once a theatre, where a lifesized replica of the bottom part of the façade of the Duomo has been created in order to show statuary in context. An excellent audioguide completes a most educational visit.
Another really interesting new opening is the Innocenti Museum, which before its huge renovation and reopening in 2016 was a relatively small affair. This unique museum tells the history of childhood in a location that has always been dedicated to children: it was the first foundling hospice, or essentially orphanage, in Europe. The display is divided between works of art created for the institution and objects that tell the story of the institution and its wards. There are touching stories that have been reconstructed from centuries past, but also more recently, of the lives of the many children abandoned here. The museum also features a pleasant rooftop bar which remains a little known secret of Florence. Also good to know that they offer childrens’ programs, some of which do not require parental attendance, so you can go visit another Florence museum while your little ones are entertained and educated.
All images courtesy of the author’s blog arttrav.com