Islamic and Maiolica rooms at the Bargello Museum reopen with new layouts

Islamic and Maiolica rooms at the Bargello Museum reopen with new layouts

The extensive work carried out is finally unveiled to the public.

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Mon 10 Jun 2024 11:08 AM

Following nine months of closure, renovations on the Islamic and Maiolica rooms at the Bargello Museum have been completed. Reopening to the public on June 8, visitors can now find a modern arrangement, subsequent to the works already carried out on the Maddalena Chapel, the Sacristy, the Medieval Sculpture Hall, and the ivory, medals and Baroque rooms.

Amphora with Theseus and Achelous, Urbino Fontana workshop circa 1560. The Majolica Room Bargello National Museum, 2024. Ph. Nicola Neri
Amphora with Theseus and Achelous, Urbino Fontana workshop circa 1560. The Majolica Room Bargello National Museum, 2024. Ph. Nicola Neri
The Islamic Room, Bargello National Museum, 2024. Ph. Nicola Neri
The Islamic Room, Bargello National Museum, 2024. Ph. Nicola Neri

Having been closed since September 2023, visitors can now find newly assembled display cases and a carefully curated selection on the first floor of the museum, managed by the Guicciardini & Magni architecture firm. Financed by the Ministry of Culture, the work cost a total of 2,200,000 euro. Director General of the museum, Massimo Osanna, commented: “Since its opening to the public in 1865, the Bargello, the first museum in united Italy, has paid particular attention to the exhibition of decorative arts, leading to a tradition of important donations that continues today”.

Architect Piero Guicciardini elaborates on the layout of the two rooms, which he says follow “the stylistic line already undertaken in previous years for the Sala degli Ivori and the Cappella della Maddalena. Maintaining the shape of the two rooms, with few changes to their layout, all the windows have been redesigned. The new display cases are high-tech, air- and dust-tight, have a humidity control system, and are equipped with anti-reflective glass and internal LED lighting. This will guarantee better conservation of the works and, above all, easier visibility for visitors. New lighting and renewed graphics complete the work of setting up the two rooms”.

Islamic Room

Curated by leading specialists Giovanni Curatola and Marco Spallanzani, the space sees a selection of metals, ivories, ceramics, fabrics and carpets, totalling almost 100 works on display that date from the 10th to the 17th centuries. The valuable collection of Islamic art is one of the richest in Italy, consisting of valuable artefacts collected by the Medici and donations such as that of Lynonnais antiquarian Louis Carrand (1827-1888) and Baron Giulio Franchetti (1840-1909).

Curator Giovanni Curatola elaborates: “The new layout…guarantees greater visibility of the objects. The items have been reviewed…with recent acquisitions valorised, such as the two rare twin Mamluk carpets (16th century), purchased by the State and destined for this great museum. The materials have been grouped by historical provenance (such as, for example, those of Medici and Grand Ducal ancestry) and also by type in order to provide the visitor with as homogeneous a picture as possible. For the textile section, which is precious, very rich, and bulky, periodic rotations of the finds have been foreseen”.

Maiolica Room

Items on display in the newly renovated room include works by Urbino potters with figures taken from mythology, Greek and Roman history, sacred writings and printed texts. Among the most significant items is the medallion with the profile of Francesco I de’ Medici and a basin with the figure of Saint John.

The Majolica Room Bargello National Museum 2024 Ph. Nicola Neri
The Majolica Room Bargello National Museum 2024 Ph. Nicola Neri

Curator Marino Marini details “The Bargello’s important ceramic collection is one of the most notable among those preserved in Italy, and has finally obtained worthy visibility in the new maiolica room. The current layout, inspired by updated exhibition criteria and sought after by the former director Paola D’Agostino, now allows you to fully admire the over 400 ceramic works displayed in the room, a selection of the approximately 1,000 items preserved in the museum”.

Temporary new home for Donatello’s David

Masterpieces of the Salone di Michelangelo temporarily transferred to the exhibition hall, 2024. Ph. Nicola Neri
Masterpieces of the Salone di Michelangelo temporarily transferred to the exhibition hall, 2024. Ph. Nicola Neri

Coinciding with the reopening of the rooms is the new placement of 13 works from the Salone di Donatello, which have been temporarily moved to the exhibition room on the ground floor, curated by Ilaria Ciseri, while the Salone Monumentale undergoes restoration and rearragnement works from June 5 to late October. Visitors can admire Donatello‘s famous David and his Amore-Attis bronze, as well three reliefs by Luca della Robbia and two gilded bronze panels made by Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti in 1401.

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