One of the most sensational museums in Florence, a must-see destination for all art lovers, is undoubtedly the Accademia Gallery. It is located at Via Ricasoli 60, right in the centre of the city, and is home to the largest number of Michelangelo‘s statues in the world: there are seven in all, and among them the David stands out for its beauty and fame.
But not only Michelangelo: inside the Galleria dell’Accademia, opened way back in 1784, it is possible to visit the world’s largest and most important collection of paintings with a gold background, as well as a collection dedicated to musical instruments.
Divided into no less than 12 rooms and a series of exhibition routes, the Accademia Gallery is owned by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, and has been granted special autonomy since 2014. Today, its director is Cecilie Hollberg, and visitors number just under two million a year.
In addition to the museum’s absolute star, Michelangelo’s David, the Gallery houses a priceless series of masterpieces and works of art, displayed along the entire exhibition route.
Michelangelo’s David is the masterpiece of the Accademia Gallery , and at the same time one of the most famous statues in the world. Since 1873, it has been located in a room called the Tribuna del David, in which it is the only protagonist; the side arms of the room contain numerous works of the Mannerist school, all dating from around the mid-16th century.
The David is 5 metres and 20 centimetres high, including the base, which alone is just over a metre high. It was made by Michelangelo between 1501 and 1504, and is one of the symbols of both the Renaissance and Florence. Michelangelo wanted to represent King David as he prepared to face Goliath, and found the main difficulty in the marble, which was of low quality and very fragile. The fee Michelangelo received for the three-year completion was 400 florins.
The name of this room comes from the statue of one of the Dioscuri of Montecavallo, now moved to the Gipsoteca of the Istituto d’Arte di Porta Romana. In this room you can admire the sketch of the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, and numerous 15th and 16th century paintings of the Florentine school by the likes of Paolo Uccello, Botticelli and Perugino.
The Prisoners are four male sculptures by Michelangelo, respectively Atlas, the Bearded Slave, the Reawakening Slave and the Young Slave, originally made to adorn the tomb of Julius II in Rome, but which were used by Cosimo I de’ Medici to adorn Buontalenti’s grotto in the Boboli Gardens.
They are flanked by two other statues by Michelangelo: the Palestrina Pietà and the St. Matthew, while on the walls are several 16th-century masterpieces by various artists.
The Salone dell’Ottocento, or Gipsoteca Bartolini, houses paintings and sculptures by 19th century artists. The main protagonist is Lorenzo Bartolini, of whom numerous plaster casts are on display, while the paintings are the works that were made by the artists to participate in the painting contests at the Academy of Fine Arts.
In this room are masterpieces of Florentine Gothic painting, many of them gold-ground panels. There is also a fragment attributed to Giotto from the Abbey of Santa Maria in Florence.
Among the works that can be admired are the Madonna and Child with Saints by Grifo di Tancredi, the Madonna Enthroned with Child by Guido da Siena, and many works by anonymous painters such as the Master of Magdalene and the Master of St. Cecilia.
As its name suggests, the Giottesque Room (Sala dei Giotteschi) displays works by Giotto’s followers, Florentine artists dating back to the 14th century. These include many works by Bernardo Daddi and Taddeo Gaddi, as well as two precious works by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, Christ Blessing and Two Prophets and Christ in Pity between the Virgin and St. John the Evangelist and Saints.
The Orcagnas were three brothers who were painters active in Florence during the 14th century. The name Orcagna is actually the nickname of Andrea di Cione and is a mispronunciation of the name Arcangelo; the other brothers were Nardo di Cione and Jacopo di Cione.
This room of the Galleria dell’Accademia is dedicated to them: Andrea‘s Pentecost and Madonna Enthroned with Child and Saints can be admired, while Nardo‘s Triptych of the Thronum Gratiae is on display. There is a much larger number of works by Jacopo, while works by their followers, some of them anonymous, are arranged alongside them.
Other rooms in the Accademia Gallery include works of minor importance: these are the Giovanni da Milano room, the late 14th century room, the Lorenzo Monaco room and the International Gothic room. A rich collection of Russian icons, housed in a wing of the museum, completes the Accademia Gallery.
Admission tickets to the Accademia Gallery can be purchased directly from the ticket office or online to avoid queues. Reductions are available for 18 to 25 year olds, while admission is free for children under the age of 18, the disabled with an accompanying person, tour guides, teachers and students from the academies of fine arts, journalists, and other categories as defined by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage. Please note that the ticket office closes 30 minutes before closing time.
There are several ticket options: standard, priority access and audioguide.
If you plan to visit the Uffizi in addition to the Accademia Gallery, consider buying a combined ticket that includes both so you can save on the overall cost of admission.
The museum does not organise guided tours, however it is possible to take part in private tours or group tours, organised by experienced Florentine guides, which will allow you to enjoy the museum from a different perspective. There are many tours of the Accademia Gallery: choose your favourite by researching online, evaluating elements such as your budget, the time needed for the visit and the professionalism of the guide.
The Accademia Gallery is one of the most beautiful and interesting museums in Florence: follow these tips to make the most of your day.
The curious name of the museum derives from its foundation: in fact, in 1784 Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo of Lorraine founded the Accademia di Belle Arti, an institution that brought together present and past institutions, such as the Accademia delle arti e del disegno founded by Cosimo I almost 200 years earlier.
The Academy of Fine Arts was immediately joined by a gallery, where students could find works of art to study and imitate, for a better artistic education. Initially, this new gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts included Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women, and the Allegory of Florence Dominating Pisa, now located inside Palazzo Vecchio, alongside some plaster casts and a series of canvases, old collections of the Accademia del Disegno.
In a short time, this Gallery was enlarged, and paintings from all over the world were brought in; moreover, several works of art were acquired at the turn of 1817. Today, the Accademia Gallery is the result of all that has happened along its corridors over the centuries of its history.
The narrow Via Ricasoli, where the Gallery is located, connects Piazza del Duomo with Piazza San Marco. It is therefore a very central street in Florence, and as such off-limits to vehicular traffic. We recommend getting there on foot: from Santa Maria Novella station it takes about 15 minutes, from Piazza del Duomo only 5 minutes, from the Uffizi a little over 10 minutes.
If you have different needs, very close to the Gallery is Piazza San Marco, where many bus lines stop: 1, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 25, 31, 32 and 52. You are sure to find the one that suits you best! Once off the bus, just walk a little more than 100 metres along Via Ricasoli: the entrance to the Accademia Gallery is at number 60.
The Galleria dell'Accademia is located on Via Ricasoli, within easy walking distance of both the Santa Maria Novella station and the city's other main attractions.