The Botticelli Rooms Reopen
After 15 months of closure, this past Tuesday the Botticelli rooms and the other two rooms dedicated to the Early Renaissance paintings reopened to the public. As part of the New Uffizi project masterminded by the Sopraintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paessaggio di Firenze which is undertaking the complete renovation of the museum, all without ever closing to the public, the renovation of these last rooms completes the renovation of the entire second floor of the Uffizi Gallery.
The reopened rooms were the object of a complete overhaul, with new technological installations governing air conditioning, security and lighting in all of the four rooms. In particular, the Halls 10-14 known as the Botticelli rooms, have been architecturally reconfigured from the ground up with a new false ceiling being constructed and divided into two separate rooms with the use of two full height “theatrical wings” detached from the walls. These wings not only increase the display surface available but also house the air intake ducts and electrical equipment. Thus the rooms are completely free of any other technical installation, giving more space to the works of art on display.
The new layout of the Botticelli rooms will offer visitors the chance to enjoy the paintings on display even when the rooms are considerably crowded by the many groups that gather in front of the most iconic works of art. The arrangement of the paintings in the Pollaiolo room (hall 9) has been virtually left the same, but in the two new Botticelli rooms, Spring (La Primavera) and The Birth of Venus have been divided into two focal points and framed. These two celebrated masterpieces have been hung at an appropriate distance from the other works on display so as to make it easier and more convenient for visitors to stop in front of them for longer.
The list of Botticelli paintings in display spill beyond the Botticelli rooms — look for two additional Botticelli paintings in Hall 9 – Pollaiolo and two more in Hall 15 – Hugo van der Goes. The new arrival of the poetic Annunciation painted for the Hospital of San Martino in Via della Scala in Florence, brings the total of Botticelli works on display to 18. The painting, a fresco almost 6 meters wide painted in 1481 is in the first part of the first Botticelli room, is on the left and in juxtaposition to another painting of another Annunciation, this time on wood, painted by Botticelli for the church of Cestello almost 10 years later (pictured below).
Not just these halls, Corridors too…
At the same time, the Corridors have also had major work done on them, all with new climate appliances and air ducts replaced, the electrical and special systems totally renewed. The new lighting system, composed of state-of-the-art LEDs are now built into a planned management system which allows various light sources to provide indirect, diffused light from the surfaces of the painted vaults as well as direct, constant light on the walls and accent lighting on the sculptures, highlighting the most important pieces. All of these will make a difference in the visitors experience of the Corridors and their collections, without even realizing the difference – unless you know how it was before and look to see the difference.
Most notably, The Battle of San Romano by Paolo Uccello has been move from Hall 7 to Hall 8 and the Portraits of the Dukes of Urbino by Piero della Francesca have moved from their central location in Hall 8 to Hall 9 near the windows, where the lighting is soft and permits a clearer viewing of both sides of the paintings. Domenico Veneziano’s Sacred Conversation, known as the Altarpiece of Santa Lucia de’ Magnoli, is also in Hall 8 (moved from hall 7).
Uffizi Gallery has doubled its rooms
With this latest completion of the renovation project, the Uffizi Gallery has increased its total amount of rooms dedicated to its permanent collections from 45 rooms to 101 rooms! This is due to the conversion of many rooms on the first floor that were being used by the Florence State Archive into new halls for many paintings that were in the Uffizi’s deposits.
The construction of the New Uffizi continues, and the Uffizi Gallery should shortly also have especially designed areas in a new zone set aside for temporary exhibitions. With the separation of the permanent museum itinerary from the temporary exhibition area, visitors will finally have a choice whether to visit both or just one. It will also grant the museum more chances to organize and host more exhibitions throughout the year.