Room with Michelangelo’s Secret Drawings Opens to the Public

Under the Medici Chapels in the Bargello 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 was 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. 

Due to the narrow, cramped stairs leading into the room, there is not an accessible entrance, and children under age 10 are not permitted. Tickets cost 20€ and must be purchased along with tickets to the Medici Chapel Museums which cost 10€. A reservation fee of 5€ will be added to the total cost, bringing it up to 35€.

For more information, visit the website of the Museo del Bargello here.

Update January 2024: The Musei del Bargello announced on January 18, 2024, due to the success of the opening of the room and to ensure more visitors can experience the wonder of this space, they will be extending the opening of the secret room for three more months, from the start of April until the end of June. Reservations must be made online here or by calling +39 0552 94883. 

Photo courtesy of Ufficio stampa Musei del Bargello