Every year hundreds of thousands of people head to Florence’s second most visited museum, the Accademia Gallery. The majority of them are curious to see Michelangelo’s David but if you slowly explore the museum’s less crowded halls you will appreciate its rich collections and learn a lot about the city’s history.
The Galleria dell’Accademia opened in the 18th century as part of the adjacent Academy of Fine Arts. It grew over time as new masterpieces and collections were added.
To get the most of your visit allow yourself at least two hours to see the gallery’s treasures. At the entrance, in the Hal of the Colossus, you will find the plaster model for the dramatic marble sculpture of “Rape of the Sabines” by Giambologna and some Renaissance religious artworks. One of them is a wooden panel, Cassone Adimari, depicting a Renaissance wedding of Florentine nobility. Spend some time looking at the beautifully detailed costumes and street scenes from the past.
In the Hall of the Prisoners see four unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo that were supposed to be part of the magnificent tomb of Pope Julius II della Rovere, the most spectacular tomb of Christian times. However, the project was never realized due to shortage of money and the statues eventually made its way to the Gallery. Here you will also find several beautiful works by Ghirlandaio, Fra’ Bartolomeo and Andrea del Sarto.
In the Tribune hall, in all its glory, stands the 5-meter high marble statue of David created by the 26-years-old Michelangelo. In the wings of the Tribune you can admire stunning 16th century religious paintings.
Do not miss the quieter first floor of the Gallery, which houses a magnificent collection late 14th century Florentine paintings. A fascinating video display here will introduce you to the ancient techniques employed by masters to create altarpieces that are still used by restorers in Florence.
Photos via Flickr by: Jenna Rose Robbins, Steven Depolo.