Florence is a city world renowned for being home to some of the finest museums in existence. The city boasts a remarkable mix of artistic, literary, scientific, and political talent. The incredible displays of Art, specifically from the Renaissance period, are some of the main reasons that tourists flock to Florence and many of the world’s most historically important artists have masterpieces on display in this vibrant city. Here you can see some of the must-see galleries in Florence.
The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
Located at the east end of Piazza del Duomo, the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (or Museum of the Works of the Cathedral) holds many of the famous Florence Cathedral’s most valued treasures. In particular, the gallery is noted for housing some the world’s most significant sculptures.
Among the gallery’s holdings are Italian artist Lorenzo Ghiberti’s famed doors entitled the Gates of Paradise, a marble sculpture created by Michelangelo for his own tomb named the Deposition, the Singing Galleries, designed by artists Luca della Robbia and Donatello and a 14th century statue of the Virgin Mary, created by Giovanni d’Ambrogio.
The Uffizi Gallery
Florence’s most famous gallery ‘The Uffizi’ currently holds the highest concentration of Renaissance art in the world, including works by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Work began on the Uffizi building in 1560 by Giorgio Vasari, originally created to house the offices of the Florence parliament. Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti completed the structure 21 years later in 1581.
The gallery has a number of significant creations among its collections including Botticelli’s Primavera and the Birth of Venus, Filippino Lippi’s Madonna and Child with Two Angels as well as Titian’s Venus of Urbino. As well as viewing the incredible art on display, visitors to the Uffizi may also enjoy paying a visit to the Vasari Corridor, which links the Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi to the Palazzo Pitti (more information right below) on the other side of the River.
Open Tuesday through Sunday from 8:15 AM until 6:50 PM, the gallery is visited by around 10,000 people a day with up to 1.5 million visitors each year.
Formerly under the command of the powerful Medici family, the Palazzo Pitti is the largest and most intricate renaissance palace in Florence. Merchant Luca Pitti, an acquaintance of Cosimo de’Medici, began building the palace in 1457. In 1549, the palace was sold outright to the Medici family, later becoming their primary residence and undergoing several renovations in its impressive lifetime.
The Pitti Palace has on display some of the most important works of art in Florence. Within its wings stand several significant galleries including the Palatine Gallery, with its collection of 16th and 17th century paintings, the Museum of Silver, containing historical significant Medici family heirlooms and the Gallery of Modern Art on the top floor, featuring works of art from the 19th and 20th centuries.
In the separate Palazzina del Cavaliere within the impressive Boboli Gardens stands the Porcelain Museum, home to porcelain works of art from throughout history, while within the Costume Gallery, an intriguing display of fashion spans several decades.
The Accademia’s main attractions are undoubtedly the seven sculptures by renowned artist Michelangelo, the standout piece being the 4.5m statue of David, one of the most famous sculptures in the world. Originally sourced from the Piazza della Signoria in 1873, the statue of David is displayed in its own purposely-built room and remains one of the most popular tourist attractions, not only in Florence but in the whole of Italy.
Besides the works of Michelangelo, the Accademia also has on display works by great Italian artists such as Allessando Allori, Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Sandro Botticelli. The most recent addition to the gallery is the Museum of Musical Instruments, which houses historically significant instruments belonging to Stradivari and Bartolomeo Cristofori, the inventor of the piano.
The Bargello or Palazzo del Bargello was Florence’s original town hall, serving as the seat of the magistrates and later housing the office of the Captain of Justice, the 16th-century equivalent of today’s police commissioner. Construction began on the Palazzo in 1255, with a third storey being added after a fire destroyed parts of the building in 1323.
The museum houses masterpieces by Michelangelo, including his famous Madonna and Child, Donatello’s David and St. George Tabernacle as well as Vincenzo Gemito’s famous Pescatore. There are also a few works from the Baroque period, notably Bernini’s Bust of Costanza Bonarelli.
Besides the art of display, the museum also boasts an important collection of ceramics, textile, tapestries, ivory, silver, armors, and rare coins. The open courtyard of the gallery is not to be missed with various coats of arms on display as well as 16th century statues by Bandinelli, Ammannati, Giambologna, and Danti.