Under the Medici Chapels Museum in Florence, a secret room held a secret set of drawings on its walls believed to belong to Michelangelo Buonarroti, an artist who needs no introduction. The drawings in the room, which is accessible through a trap door, remained hidden and unbeknownst to even members of the museum staff until plans to renovate the museum in 1975 led a team to explore the area.
In 1530, Michelangelo went into hiding from the Medici family after siding with a group in favor of a Republic and thereby in favor of overthrowing the powerful family. It is not proven, but many believe that this room, about 33 feet long by 10 feet wide, is where he hid out from the political storm. Scholars note similarities between the carbon sketches found on the wall of the room and other famous figures made by Michelangelo’s hands like his world-famous David statue or figures in the Sistine Chapel.
Until today and despite a brief period in the 1990’s, this room was only open to V.I.P.s, scholars and friends of the art world like King Charles III and Leonardo Di Caprio. Now, four visitors at a time will be allowed into the room for a maximum of 15 minutes. High priority has been placed upon maintaining the drawings and special LED lights are used in the display along with a railing keeping visitors at a safe distance. Visits will begin on November 15, 2023 and reservations will be open until March 30, 2024.
Photo of the Medici Chapels Museum by Renato Martinho