The big day of the new Museum of the Opera del Duomo in Florence has arrived

View from the Belvedere del Paradiso

Last Wednesday we took part in the exciting presentation of the new Museum of the Opera del Duomo in Florence, which will reopen to the public on Thursday, October 29.

After 3 years of resting behind closed doors, both the general public and the “insiders” are nursing high expectations for the reopening of the museum and since we were present at the preview, we can confirm that this long wait will be amply rewarded.

Thanks to a substantial economic investment by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, the Cathedral Museum has been completely renovated, offering visitors an absolutely new and spectacular experience.

The floor surface of the museum has been almost doubled with the acquisition of property adjacent to the old museum and is now about 6,000 square meters, with 25 rooms arranged on three floors. The Cathedral Museum has the largest concentration of monumental sculptures in the world and the new layout has provided ample space for showing several hundred restored pieces of art works, many of which have come from storage.

As explained during the press conference by Timothy Verdon, director and author of the museum project together with Franco Lucchesi, president of the Opera di Santa Maria del Flower and Adolfo Natalini, head of the architectural design and construction of the museum, special attention was paid the to the spatiality of this new set-up. The interior of the old museum and the new properties were adapted to the works which allows the viewer to appreciate the sculptures and art just as they were intended by the artists (respecting hieghts and distances of the original location in the church.)

Inside the museum, in the Hall of the Antique Façade (Sala dell’Antica Facciata), there is a life size reproduction of the old Duomo façade designed by Arnolfo di Cambio which was began in late 1200’s. The audience is greeted by a wall that is 36 meters long by 20 meters wide and 20 meters height.

The Hall of the Antique Facade

Can you imagine standing in front of it? Honestly, for me it was one of the most exciting moments of the entire visit.

The hall is even more incredible (if possible) seen from the large window “Belvedere del Paradiso” on the third floor (as you can see in the first photo).

The new layout was intended to encourage a sort of dialogue between the viewer and the artwork. It was organized in a way that would highlight the timeframe in which each piece was produced and the correlation between similar pieces, in addition to demostrating how the different artists interacted with each other.

There are more than 200 pieces of artwork displayed for the first time since thier restoration. Among these the Penitent Mary Magdalen by Donatello and the North Gate of the Baptistery of Florence, designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti, which visitors can now admire next to the Gate of Paradise.

The Penitent Magdalen by Donatello
The Penitent Mary Magdalen by Donatello
The Gates of the Baptistery of San Giovanni
The Gates of the Baptistery of San Giovanni

Among the masterpieces already showed in the museum, we find works by major artists from the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Florence: the Pietà del Duomo by Michelangelo, the Cantorie by Luca della Robbia and Donatello and works by Andrea Pisano, Antonio del Pollaiuolo and Andrea del Verrocchio.

Pietà del Duomo by Michelangelo
Pietà del Duomo by Michelangelo

A curious room is certainly the Gallery of Brunelleschi’s Dome, which shows wooden models from the fifteenth century, including one attributed exclusively to Brunelleschi. The perfect ending of the visit to the museum is the panoramic outdoor terrace with a breathtaking view of the Dome by Brunelleschi, called “Terrazza del Brunelleschi“.

The Terrace of Brunelleschi
The Terrace of Brunelleschi

The Cathedral Museum will officially open Friday, October 29 and, if you are in Florence, on the afternoon of October 29 (from 2pm to 6pm) the entrance will be free to allow everyone to take part in this important “day of celebration” for the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and the city of Florence.

From October 30, the Cathedral Museum (entrance in Piazza del Duomo, 9), will be open every day from 9am to 7pm.
The ticket will cost € 15 and include the entry to the Museum, the Baptistery, Giotto’s Bell Tower, Brunelleschi’s Dome and the Crypt of Santa Reparata.
Children under 6 entry free; children from 6 to 11 years have reduced ticket at the cost of € 3.

Until January 26, 2016 it will be possible to buy a joint ticket that allows a visit to the Museum, the Baptistry and the exhibition “Divine Beauty of Van Gogh, Chagall and Fountain” at Palazzo Strozzi, for only € 12 (reduced € 6 ).

About Cristina Romeo

Born in Florence at the end of the fabulous '70s, Cristina has always lived in the famous "cradle of the Renaissance". She's in love with her homeland, but also enjoys traveling and discovering new places. Cristina is mum to a lovely little girl, to whom she hopes to pass on all the passion and love of our precious, wonderful Tuscany.