The Accademia Gallery
The Accademia Gallery is, together with the Uffizi, one of the most visited museums in Florence and the world. The most famous and interesting works of art that make the Accademia famous are without a doubt those created by the genius Michelangelo, and above all, the spectacular statue of David.
The marble statue, which is 5 meters tall and weighs over 5 tons, stood tall for almost 400 years in front of Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria. Exposed to the weather and to acts of vandalism through the centuries, the David was finally moved to the museum in 1873 into the circular hall especially designed for him by architect Emilio De Fabris.
The Accademia Gallery was founded in 1787 by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Peter Leopold to collect the works of art, contemporary of that time, of the masters and students of the Academy of Fine Arts which is still next door to this present day. It was the Grand Duke’s intention that the Accademia become an important cultural setting for Florence, and he surely never imagined it would become one of the most visited museums in the whole world.
Only after, 6 additional works by Michelangelo arrived at the Accademia to create an extraordinary collection of sculptures: the 4 “prisoners” which were originally intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II, a St. Matthew which was begun in 1503 for Florence’s cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore and the Pietà from Palestrina.
The Accademia’s collection also includes:
– the original plaster model of the Rape of the Sabines by Giambologna. The sculptural monument was commissioned by Francesco I de’ Medici and completed between 1583-1585. You can admire the original marble statue under the Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria.
– an important collection of paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries which were originally in churches across Florence. This includes the Madonna of the Sea and the Madonna with Child, Two Angels and St. John the Baptist by Sandro Botticelli (dating from 1475-1480), the Annunciation by Filippino Lippi and works by Perugino, Pontormo, Ghirlandaio and Bronzino. Within the first hall, you will also find the famous Cassone Adimari, a painted panel painted by Masaccio’s younger brother, Giovanni, better known by the nickname of Lo Scheggia. The panel depicts a wedding scene in Renaissance Florence.
– a collection of wooden panel paintings from the 14th century, contemporaries of Giotto, in rooms called “Florentine Gothic”. One of the most important to look for is the cabinet from the Sacristy of Santa Croce painted with scenes from the life of Christ and St. Francis of Assisi by Taddeo Gaddi in 1335-1340.
– in the large hall where the old St. Matthew Hospital used to reside (it was surrounded and became part of the Accademia building), you will find the original plaster models by the sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini. Bartolini was professor of sculpture at the Accademia between 1839 and 1850 and was dramatically influenced 19th century sculpture, shifting the style from a neoclassical ideal to the natural beauty of the Romantic period. Along the walls of this hall, you will find 19th century paintings that were among the first paintings housed within the Accademia when it first opened.
– the Accademia museum continues on the first floor: the large hall has a large collection of Gothic altarpieces with gold backgrounds from the Tuscany school. Make sure to look for the splendid sacred vestment (paliotto) that covered the main altar in Santa Maria Novella. Made in linen and embroidered with silk and gold and silver threads, it was created by Jacopo Cambi in 1336.
– recently, trying to reclaim the tie between the Accademia and contemporary art, the collection has expanded with donated works from recent temporary exhibits, including a photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe.
– finally, the Accademia is connected to the Luigi Cherubini Music Conservatory, which includes an important collection of ancient musical instruments, including some that belonged to the Medici.
Don’t waste time in line at the Accademia Gallery, skip the line by booking your tickets today!
Visit the Accademia with a Guided Tour
What better way to visit the Accademia and learn more about its treasures than with a private tour guide by your side who can explain the history and stories behind the artists, works of art and their connections?
The tour is conducted in English and lasts about an hour and a half.
By buying your museum tickets or booking your guided tour ahead of time to the Accademia Gallery, you will be able to skip the long line that forms at this museum and will be able to spend more time admire the masterpieces housed within.