Florence, at the heart of the Italian Rennaisance, might seem like an open air museum to most visitors. The piazzas and buildings themselves are a testament of the history of architecture and of past eras. Florence's cathedral, churches and many palaces were designed, built and decorated by many of the most illustrious of artists of the time, from Brunelleschi to Michelangelo, and can be admired freely from the outside. But in order to see another side of Florence, the side that contains most of its treasures, you need to go indoors and visit some museums while you are here. There you will find the paintings, sculptures and frescoes imagined and created by the greatest minds of all time.
Firenze Musei is a network of thirteen state museums in Florence (Accademia Gallery, Uffizi Gallery, Palatine Gallery, Silver Museum, Gallery of Modern Art and Costume Gallery, Medici Chapels, San Marco Museum, Bargello Museum, Cenacolo di Andrea del Sarto, Davanzati Museum, Boboli Gardens, Archaeological Museum, Museo dell'Opificio delle Pietre Dure) housing works of art from most of the collections of the Signori who ruled Florence (the Medici and the Lorraine families) as well as some works originally belonging to ecclesiastical bodies that fell into the hands of the State as a result of the 19th-century suppression of religious bodies.
Firenze Musei owns and displays around three hundred thousand works of art and exhibits dating from prehistory to the 20th century, although the jewels of the collections belong to the Florentine Renaissance, possibly the most dazzling artistic period of Western culture.
This is one of the most famous museums of paintings and sculpture in the world. Its collection of Primitive and Renaissance paintings comprises several universally acclaimed masterpieces of all time, including works by Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio. German, Dutch and Flemish masters are also well represented with important works by Dürer, Rembrandt and Rubens. The Uffizi buildings also house other important collections: the Contini Bonacossi Collection and the Collection of Prints and Drawings (Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi).
The Vasari Corridor, the raised passageway connecting the Uffizi with the Pitti Palace, was built by Vasari in 1565. It is hung with an important collection of 17th-century paintings and the famous collection of artists’ Self-portraits.
The Gallery is particularly famous for its sculptures by Michelangelo: the Prisoners, the St.Matthew and, especially, the statue of David which was transferred here, to the specially designed tribune, from Piazza della Signoria in 1873. In the adjacent rooms, which were part of two former convents, important works of art were collected here in the 19th century from the Academy of Design, the Academy of Fine Arts and from suppressed convents. Recently the Gallery has been further enriched by the important collection of old musical instruments from the Cherubini Conservatory, the Department of Musical Instruments.
The Palatine Gallery occupies the whole left wing of the first floor of the Pitti Palace, which was the residence of the Medici grand-dukes. In 1828, when Tuscany came under the rule of the Lorraine family, the most important paintings in the Palace, most of which had been collected by the Medici, were hung in the Gallery. It is an impressive collection comprising works by Raphael, Titian, Correggio, Rubens, Pietro da Cortona and other Italian and European masters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. From the Palatine Gallery the visit continues through the Royal Apartments. They consist of fourteen magnificent rooms which were the home of the Medici and Lorraine grand-ducal families and, from 1865, of the king of Italy.
Museo degli Argenti
Gallery of Modern Art
Cenacolo di Andrea del Sarto
San Marco Museum
Museo dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure