Uffizi opens renovated Botticelli rooms

Restructured rooms 9 through 15 open to the public October 18

Mary Gray
October 17, 2016 - 17:30

A "rebirth of Venus" is underway this week as rooms 9 through 15 of the Uffizi Gallery reopen to the public on October 18. Their extensive renovation was made possible by a donation from nonprofit association Friends of Florence, and was supervised by the Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio di Firenze.

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Masterpieces by Early Renaissance artists are the cornerstones of this collection, now enhanced by a new layout, updated lighting and climatization systems and an architectural reconfiguration of the central Botticelli space. Containing rooms 10 through 14, this Botticelli area has undergone the most dramatic change: the area has been broken down into two adjacent sections, delineated by two theatrical-style wings, increasing the available display surfaces. 

Ph. Mary Gray Ph. Mary Gray

The new Botticelli rooms have been arranged with the visitor experience in mind. Ample space has been given to each artwork, particularly to iconic pieces like the Birth of Venus (ca. 1484–1486) and Primavera (ca. 1482), around which crowds tend to congregate. Both of these masterpieces are the focal points of their respective rooms, significantly distanced from the other works on display. This aims to allow visitors to observe them at length from a variety of angles. Along with the practicalities of visitor flow, artistic context was also a top priority: director of the Uffizi Eike Schmidt noted that each painting "is displayed in direct relation to those in its immediate vicinity in terms of style, date or subject matter."

Beyond their spatial reorganization, the Botticelli rooms (10–14) have also received a monumental addition: an Annunciation, painted for the Hospital of San Martino in Florence's via della Scala, has been introduced to this already dense collection of works. Nearly 6 meters wide, the painting is juxtaposed with another of the same subject matter, which the artist completed for the church of Cestello nearly a decade later.

Room 9, which houses works by Pollaiolo, has been left largely untouched, and room 15 maintains its traditional arrangement of late 15th century Florentine works in dialogue with Adoration of the Shepherds by Flemish master Hugo van der Goes. Due to the increased spaces between the various exhibits, several of Botticelli's works, including the Coronation of the Virgin, painted for the goldsmiths' chapel at San Marco, have been moved into room 15.

Countess Simonetta Brandolini d'Adda, president of Friends of Florence, spoke of the association's enthusiasm about the project: "Botticelli is such an iconic figure. When we were asked if we would help with this project, our response, of course, was "yes", right away. We were able to raise all of the funds in just 6 weeks, so almost 1 million dollars. Response was incredible, between donors who are on our board and donors who are especially in love with Botticelli, and also Pollaiolo," she told The Florentine.

"The lighting, the protection of the paintings, the quality of the air and just the general visibility of the paintings {are} so enhanced," she added.

The rooms will open to the general public on Tuesday, October 18.


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