Museo di San Marco

Jane Fortune
October 5, 2006

The Museum of San Marco was opened to the public in 1869 after the abolition of monasteries, which occurred in 1866. It has its own place inside the old monastery of San Marco, built between 1437 and 1444 under the patronage of Cosimo de’ Medici for the reformed Dominican monks coming from San Domenico in Fiesole. It was erected on the ruins of the pre-existing medieval monastery, once inhabited by Sylvestrin monks. The building, designed by Michelozzo, the favourite architect of the Medici family, is a fine example of measure, harmony and rationality, so typical of Renaissance architecture.During the same period, many spaces, such as the cloisters, the chapter house, the 44 cells and the corridors of the dormitory were frescoed by Fra’ Giovanni da Fiesole, later known as Beato Angelico. In the following centuries, other important painters, such as Bernardino Poccetti, Alessandro Gher-ardini and Fra’ Bartolomeo (who lived and had his own workshop in the monastery) frescoed some walls of the rooms and cloisters in order to celebrate the most important saints of the Domenican order.Since 1800, the museum has acquired a noteworthy collection of illuminated choir-books coming from closed monasteries as well as the remains of an-cient stone fragments and paintings of the ‘old centre’ of Florence. In later years, it established its own character, becoming a monographic museum dedi-cated to Fra’ Angelico, one of the most outstanding painters of the Renaissance. Hence, at present, the museum exhibits the majority of his paintings on wood coming from other Florentine churches and monasteries.During the 1900s, the museum achieved one of its main goals: namely, to increase the variety and number of cultural treasures, artistic or otherwise, linked to the Dominican personalities whose lives were intertwined with the history of San Marco.Jane’s picks: In the large refectory, Suor Plautilla Nelli’s Lamentation (available for viewing from October 24); on the first floor, Fra Angelico’s Annunciation, one of the most famous images in Renaissance art; and in the small refectory, Dominico Ghirlandaio’s Last Supper.Piazza San Marco, 1Admission: 4 euroOpen 8:15 - 1:30 Tue-Fri; Saturday and Sunday 8:30 -7, closed the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Sunday and 2nd  and 4th Monday of the month.Tel: 055-2388605.


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