Updating the Duomo

31 million investment, new museum scheduled for October 2015

Alexandra Korey
December 4, 2014

31 million euro for construction and restoration at the Grande Museo del Duomo di Firenze, all covered by the Opera del Duomo from ticket sales and without using public funds. The allocated sum was announced yesterday at a press conference hosted by the Opera del Duomo, which presented the unified backing in this project by Florence mayor Dario Nardella and the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Giuseppe Betori.

 

Facade room, opera del duomo (mockup)

 

The impressive amount of 31,292,000 euro to be invested by the Opera del Duomo in two years is divided into the creation of the new museum (23,456,000 euro, including over 5 million for the display inside); 7,084,000 euro for restoration of the external façade of the Baptistery, its doors and the statuary above them; and approximately 2,745,000 euro for the restoration of 130 works in the Opera del Duomo museum, including Donatello’s Mary Magdalen. The Opera’s annual ticket income is around 11 million euro (in 2014 it was 11,255,000), while it gained 480,000 euro in fundraising in 2014.

 

Verdon & Betori present the museum

 

The new museum of the Opera del Duomo is slated to open on October 29, 2015, on occasion of the fifth National Ecclesiastical Conference (V Convegno Ecclesiale Nazionale della Chiesa Italiana) scheduled in Florence from November 9 to 13, 2015. Press was given an advance tour of the new facility, currently a construction site, by the museum’s curator, Monsignor Timothy Verdon. The new museum looks like it will indeed fulfil the desire expressed to The Florentine when we met with the Opera’s director, Franco Lucchesi, in early 2013: to contextualize the collection with the monument just outside the museum.

 

Dr. Verdon led the group into the huge new space of the Museum, which incorporates the old building—hardly recognizable—and the adjacent Teatro degli Intrepidi that the Opera bought back in 1997. It is likely that the space where the teatro was built in the late 18th century was the same place where Michelangelo carved the David at the turn of the 15th century, and now it will be once again part of the Duomo complex.

 

The 5,500 square meter museum is divided into 25 rooms on 3 levels. The rooms vary greatly in size and atmosphere, recreating functions and atmospheres appropriate to the original functions of the artworks contained within them. The three sets of original doors from the Baptistery will be positioned in an enormous, light-filled room on specially designed supports, evoking the public space of the piazza, while smaller and more intimate areas recall religious interiors. The large museum has multiple paths to accommodate both casual visitors and those who prefer in-depth looking.

 

For the visit, members of the press donned hard hats and posed for selfies (myself included). A personal favourite space is the rooftop terrace with a close-up view of the Duomo, reminding the museum visitor of the context for which the artworks inside were created.

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