Accademia Gallery – Florence
Phone: +39 (0)55 294883
The Accademia Gallery (Italian: Galleria dell’Accademia, not to be confused with the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice) is a museum of Renaissance art in Florence, central Italy. The museum is most famous for displaying the David sculpture by Michelangelo.
The museum’s origins trace back to 1784, when Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, founded the Accademia di Belle Arti (School of Fine Arts) and provided it with an art gallery aimed to inspire the students through outstanding examples of painting and sculpture.
The collection was thereafter substantially enlarged with works of art, mostly paintings, coming from churches and monasteries suppressed by both Leopold II, and Napoleon Bonaparte.
In 1872, for conservation purposes, the monumental David by Michelangelo was moved into the Academy Gallery from its original location in Piazza della Signoria; following that acquisition, the collection of the Accademia Gallery was then enriched with six unfinished marble sculptures by Michelangelo, together with a number of plaster casts, with a view to making it the world’s most important museum focused on Michelangelo’s sculptural works.
The museum is currently located in the 14th century Ospedale di San Matteo and Monastery of San Niccolò di Cafaggio, not far from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
The museum’s collection of Michelangelo’s works comprises, along with the David, four sculptures of the Prisoners (all unfinished, made in circa 1530 for the tomb of Pope Julius II), the Saint Matthew (ca. 1505, unfinished, originally intended to decorate the Florence Cathedral), and the Palestrina Pietà (whose attribution to Michelangelo is questioned).
The painting collection of the Accademia Gallery features pieces by Florentine-school masters from the 13th to the 16th century, including works by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Paolo Uccello, Sandro Botticelli, and Jacopo Pontormo. The so-called Byzantine rooms on the ground floor present a number of remarkable medieval paintings on board.
The museum also holds a number of rare musical instruments from the Cherubini’s Conservatory collection, including a violin, a viola and a cello by Antonio Stradivari.
This heterogeneous ensemble of pieces of art makes the Accademia Gallery of an exceptional quality in its collection, yet a bit haphazard in its permanent exhibition layout and concept, despite the recent renovation of some of the museum’s galleries.
The museum’s building is only partially accessible to physically impaired people.
Michelangelo Buonarroti, David, 1501-1504, Carrara marble; photos: Dimitris Kamaras
An “old-fashioned” gallery in the Accademia Gallery; photo: Renato Torii
Accademia Gallery, 13th-century painting room; photo courtesy of Polo Museale Fiorentino – Florence Museum Network
Michelangelo Buonarroti (attributed to), Palestrina Pietà, 1550-1560, marble; photo courtesy of Polo Museale Fiorentino
Sandro Botticelli, The Virgin and Child with Two Angels and the Young St. John the Baptist, 1465–1470, tempera on panel; photo courtesy of Polo Museale Fiorentino
Cover image: Accademia Gallery – Florence, Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture; photo: Darren and Brad
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