The Uffizi Gallery inaugurated the new Vasari Auditorium on February 5, adding six new spaces to the museum. The ground floor rooms in the Gallery’s west wing are dedicated to Giorgio Vasari, famed court painter and architect who designed the space. The name and dedication is certainly not a coincidence, as the rooms are the only ones that still perfectly preserve Vasari’s original layout: a succession of large halls facing the portico and two smaller rooms behind each of these.
“Florence has been enriched by a new location for cultural promotion, education and spreading awareness,” declared Eike Schmidt, director of the Uffizi Galleries. “The space is specifically equipped to host conventions, scientific conferences, public debates and cultural events in the broadest sense of the term.” Indeed, the auditorium boasts a projection and audio-visual system with a retractable screen, offering the museum an additional place to hold conferences and presentations beyond the S. Pier Scheraggio room used until now. The spaces will also be connected to the museum’s itinerary, making it a further available space for temporary exhibitions, though there is also an exterior entrance for outside events.
The rooms originally housed the offices of Florence’s Magistrates, which were replaced by the House of Lorraine’s archives, followed, after Unification, by the State Archives, and finally the Gabinetto Fotografico. The space comprises six rooms: two large rooms and four smaller ones behind these. The first room upon entrance is the Vasari Auditorium, followed by the Sala di Arianna, where a marble Sleeping Ariadne – a Roman copy of a Greek original from the 3rd century BCE – sits underneath a large, 16th-century Medici coat of arms, symbolizing the importance of classical sculpture in the Medici’s collecting habits. The room acts as a prelude to the future Antiquarium, which is planned in the coming years.
In addition to a room that contains a bathroom and a coat check that can be utilized during events, the three remaining smaller rooms behind the auditorium and the Sala di Arianna are dedicated to the history of the Uffizi, with one focused on the Uffizi’s foundation, another highlighting Vasari’s design, with models made for the 2011 exhibition on the late-Renaissance architect, and a final room about Arata Isozaki’s winning project for redesigning the Uffizi’s exit.