During the night between April 15 and 16, 2016, the south door of the Florence baptistery will be transported to the Opificio delle Pietre Dure. A work of Andrea Pisano, the door will undergo a thorough restoration before moving permanently to the new Opera del Duomo Museum, where it will be displayed alongside Lorenzo Ghiberti’s north and east doors. A replica will be installed on the south end of the baptistery.
Consisting of 28 panels, the south door narrates 20 scenes from the life of Saint John the Baptist, with the 8 lower panels depicting the virtues of hope, faith, charity, humility, fortitude, temperance, justice and prudence. Its restoration is expected to take at least three years, as the lower-level reliefs have been worn down through constant contact with visitors. The whole surface has been obscured by sediments and color alterations that mask the door’s intricate detailing. Florence’s 1966 flood also caused considerable damage, evident from the sizeable crack in the “charity” and “humility” panels.
Photo by Antonio Quattrone
The Opera del Duomo museum will provide optimal storage conditions for the door. The low humidity setting will help prevent the formation of unstable salts between its bronze surface and golden film: these lift and perforate the gold, damaging it over time.
The door has already been dismantled and moved inside the baptistery, where it will stay until the late hours of April 15, when a crew will move it to the Opificio delle Pietre Dure. During that time, the route between piazza Duomo and via Alfani will be closed to traffic.