Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
Firenze (Florence) is well known for its significant Cathedral or Duomo, located in the Piazza del Duomo (Church Square). Most people visit it and see the works of art on display without ever realizing that there is an entire museum dedicated to the collection of those works of art that have been removed from these tourist spots for the sake of conservation.
This museum is commonly known as Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (Museum of the Works of the Cathedral) and has an interesting history. At the time of the construction of the cathedral in 1296, the city of Florence founded the Opera del Duomo (Works Commission or Cathedral Workshop), an association of the workers who were a part of the construction process.
By the year 1436, the cathedral – along with its bell tower and dome – were completed and the commission remained intact to oversee its maintenance. Eventually, in 1891, the need was felt to remove some works of art in order to conserve them. Thus, a museum was created within the Opera del Duomo to store and display these monuments.
Today, this museum is located on the northeastern side of the Piazza del Duomo and is home to monuments, memoirs, and works of art from a number of historical structures. These include; the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower), the Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery of St. John), the Cripta di Santa Reparata (Crypt of St. Reparata), Cupola del Brunelleschi (Brunelleschi’s Dome), and Campanile di Giotto (Giotto’s Bell Tower).
This great museum houses various gothic sculptures by Arnolfo di cambio that were placed on the ancient facade of the cathedral, along with the original Andrea Pisano’s Door and Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise designed for the Baptistery. A famous monument on display is Michelangelo’s Pietà – the famous Pietà Bandini – which was created by the artist to adorn his own tomb, but was placed in the cathedral instead.
On the second floor of the museum, you can find the wonderful Cantorie (Choir Galleries ) of the Cathedral, sculpted by Luca della Robbia and Donatello, providing a great opportunity to compare the artistic styles of these two great artists of the fifteenth century and learn more about their work. Also on display here, there are the originals of the reliefs created by Andrea Pisano and of the statues by Donatello for the bell tower, and the sculputure of penitent Magdalene also by Donatello,
Locals state that a visit to Florence is incomplete without seeing the Museo dell Opera del Duomo. Therefore, if you are planning a trip to Italy, make plans for a long and relaxing trip into its history and culture, and visit a museum where some of the world’s best collections have been stored!