Extensive restoration of this church, former monastery and grain storehouse is complete. Florence’s Orsanmichele church and museum are now open to the public. The church’s marble tabernacle, honoring the Madonna delle Grazie, is conserved in shining splendor.
This museum, located across the street from the church, hold statues that formerly decorated the outside of the building. These statues were sculpted by famous artists in the 15th and 16th centuries. These artists are so important to Italian art history that their names are most certainly covered in the most basic Italian Renaissance Art 101 classes across the world. Lorenzo Ghiberti, known for his famous Doors of Paradise of the city’s Baptistry, is credited with creating the statue of St. Stephen. Donatello sculpted St. George and St. Mark. Brunelleschi—the man who created the cupola of Florence’s Duomo—created St. Peter. The statues commissioned to fill the building’s 14 niches are born out of a spirit of competition. Different trades in Florence commissioned different statues, each one trying to outdo the other with a more magnificent statue. Today these works are safely indoors, away from the elements, while replicas take their place outside.
The views of Florence’s most iconic building—the Duomo—are unmatched anywhere else in the city. As if that wasn’t enough of a feast for your eyes, the museum offers up views of Giotto’s bell tower, Palazzo Vecchio and the hills beyond the city.
The museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and on Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. Tickets cost 8€ and can be purchased online here. (Orsanmichele Museum and Church; Via dell’Arte della Lana; www.bargellomusei.beniculturali.it; +39 0550 649450).
Photo: Nicola Neri