This is a post for those who are visiting Florence for the first time, those who want to return and those who may only have one day to see the city. That’s right, because not everyone knows that behind the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, in the shadow of Brunelleschi’s grandiose dome, there is a real treasure to be discovered: the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo Museum in Florence.
This is not a new museum but a centuries-old institution, rich in history and art. On the occasion of the new exhibition, which opened in 2015, I had the privilege of exploring this enchanting place and I want to share with you all the wonders I discovered. If you are passionate about art and culture, get ready to take an exciting journey through centuries of history and admire the most extraordinary works of art you have ever seen.
The Opera del Duomo Museum in Florence: a treasure to admire
For anyone visiting the city, the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence should be a must-see as it possesses the world’s largest collection of sculpture from the Middle Ages and the Florentine Renaissance with over 750 works of art including statues and reliefs in marble, bronze and silver, including masterpieces by Michelangelo, Donatello, Ghiberti and many others.
It is a museum that tells 720 years of history and exhibits works that are authentic masterpieces, some of which can be seen after lengthy and elaborate restoration work, including Donatello’s Magdalene, Lorenzo Ghiberti’s North Gate for the Baptistery of Florence and the twenty-seven panels embroidered in gold and silk to a design by Antonio del Pollaiolo.
Another unmissable place to add to the list of things to see in Florence.
THE FLORENCE CATHEDRAL OPERA: A CENTURIES-OLD INSTITUTION FOR THE PRESERVATION OF ART
The Opera del Duomo, also known as the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, was founded way back in 1296 by the Republic of Florence with a fundamental objective: to oversee the construction of the magnificent basilica and bell tower.
In 1436, Florence Cathedral was finally completed with Brunelleschi’s majestic Dome, and from that moment on, the Opera del Duomo has dedicated its attention to preserving and protecting these precious works of art, including the Baptistery of San Giovanni.
In 1891, the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo was created to house all the works of art that had been removed from the cathedral and Baptistery over the centuries, and to protect the valuable exterior statues from pollution.
A CONCENTRATION OF ART, HISTORY AND CULTURE
The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is a true treasure chest, with more than 750 works of art on display in a space of over 6000 square metres. You can immerse yourself in more than 1,000 years of history and discover the mastery of the architects, artists, musicians, humanists, craftsmen and workers who helped shape the magnificent Florence.
In 25 rooms on 3 floors, you will travel through the centuries, admiring masterpieces unique in the world and discovering the fascination of Gothic sculpture, an art that has profoundly marked western culture.
UNIQUE EXPERIENCE: FROM THE GROUND FLOOR TO THE DOME BELVEDERE
The tour begins on the Ground Floor, where you are greeted by colossal art masterpieces that once adorned the interior of the Baptistery. One of the most fascinating aspects is the wall of names, which records the insignificant but fundamental contributions of thousands of people to the construction, growth and decoration of the cathedral.
Going up to the first floor, you will discover the Hall of Paradise, where the original façade of the cathedral has been faithfully recreated with life-size models. You will also admire the original Doors of Paradise from Ghiberti’s Baptistery, perfectly restored to their golden splendour.
The Magdalene Hall will amaze you with Donatello’s wooden work, the Penitent Magdalene, while the Chapel of Relics will take you back in time, showing you the importance of relics in the votive life of the faithful.
On the second floor, the Model Gallery will show you the proposals for the new Renaissance-style façade, and the Dome Belvedere will give you a breathtaking view of Brunelleschi’s marvellous dome.
AN EXPERIENCE OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
Despite its extraordinary beauty, the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence often escapes the most common tourist itineraries and is added to the list of unusual places, those of secret Florence that few people know about. This fact is an advantage for those who love Gothic art and sculpture, since the influx of visitors is less and the long waits to buy a ticket are almost non-existent. You can enjoy a pleasant and unhurried visit, fully immersing yourself in the art and history that surrounds you.
The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is much more than just a museum: it is a place where the soul of Florence manifests itself through the beauty and artistry of the works of art it houses. This hidden treasure is a journey through time and the human spirit, a testimony to the greatness of Western art and culture.
If you have the opportunity to visit Florence, do not miss the chance to discover this museum and be enchanted by its extraordinary beauty.
I look forward to seeing you in the next article, where I will take you on a discovery of other wonders of art and culture! And don’t forget to share your experiences and impressions in the comments below. Until the next art adventure!
INFORMATION FOR VISITING THE FLORENCE CATHEDRAL OPERA MUSEUM
OPERA OF SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE IN FLORENCE
Via della Canonica, 1
50122 – Florence