6 curiosities about the Accademia Gallery of Florence

6 curiosities about the Accademia Gallery of Florence

Among unusual collections, works by Michelangelo and a history devoted to teaching, discover 6 curiosities about the Accademia Gallery in Florence.

The fame of the Accademia Gallery in Florence, a spectacular museum second in importance only to the Uffizi, is inextricably linked to Michelangelo’s magnificent David. Yet, if we had to mention what to see inside the museum it would be difficult to list everything. In fact, between unique works, unusual collections and a particular history, the Academy of Florence has so much to offer and even more to tell.

Here are 6 interesting facts about the Accademia Gallery in Florence that you might not have known yet.

1. It had an educational purpose

If you’re wondering why the name of this important museum is associated with an academy, the reason is to be found in its foundation. In 1784, Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo of Lorraine re-founded the Academy of Fine Arts of Florence. Originally established in the 16th century by Cosimo de’ Medici, Leopoldo added an educational gallery to it. The aim was to provide students with a place where they could find original or reproduced works to study, imitate and even to use for inspiration for their own works.

2. The original statues

A fairly well-known curiosity about the Accademia Gallery is that the David in Piazza della Signoria is actually a replica of the original. The original marble work by the Renaissance master is on display inside the gallery. However, it is less known that the gallery houses another original model of a sculpture which can also be found in the same square. This is The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna. Visitors can see the replica under the Loggia dei Lanzi. The original clay model is in the Sala del Colosso and is amazing for the incredible movement recreated by the artist.

3. Moving the David

The David, you know, likes to attract all the attention on himself. He put on a great show in the summer of 1873 when he was moved from the square to the inside of the gallery. This was necessary in order to protect it from erosion caused by atmospheric agents. Given the sculpture’s large size, standing at seventeen feet tall, and its weight, being completely made of marble, a special wooden structure was built in order to transport it. The maneuver lasted a few days and crowds of people came to assist, bewitched by the giant who made the move into his new home.

4. Michelangelo, Michelangelo and more Michelangelo

The David is not Michelangelo’s only sculpture that is hosted by the Accademia Gallery in Florence. In fact, the museum is the institution where numerous amount of other works from the Renaissance master can be found. Besides the David, there are six others to be exact. Among these, we find the four works of the Slaves or The Prisoners, which are clear examples of the “unfinished” technique, the Palestrina Pietà (whose attribution, however, remains uncertain) and the St. Matthew.

5. The Collection of Musical Instruments

Another peculiarity of the Accademia Gallery is the presence of an important collection of musical instruments. Bizarre and unexpected in this type of gallery. However, it is one of the most important collections in Italy. In fact, many instruments that come from the private collections of the Medici and Lorraine families can be found here. Among these, there is also an eighteenth-century Stradivari violin.

6. The gold-backed panels

The famous gallery also houses the largest collection of gold-based works in the world. Created between the thirteenth century and the early fifteenth century, the works were produced by great pictorial masters such as Giotto, Agnolo Gaddi, Orcagna and the Master of Santa Cecilia. The altarpieces come from important Florentine churches and are excellent examples of local Gothic works.

Need some tips or help planning a visit to Florence? If so, take a look at 14 ways you can explore the city.

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