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If you’re in Florence this April 12 – and it isn’t the first time you visit the Uffizi Gallery – you could join in onto a different type of visit to the museum, a SLOW visit on Slow Art Day.

If you’ve never heard of Slow Art Day, don’t worry as the global, all-volunteer event is just in its 4th year but with the number of venues increasing every year as the idea takes root of taking your time to visit a local museum. This will be the first time an event is being organized at the Uffizi Gallery; make note that it is not an “official” event although the gallery administration does know it will be taking place.

So how do you visit the Uffizi Gallery slowly? The idea of the movement is for everyone to go visit a local museum on April 12 at 11am worldwide, study 5 specific works of art designated by the host and then meet up with the host and others participating in the event over lunch to discuss your impressions.

The Uffizi is clearly not easy museum to visit “slowly” given the amount of extraordinary masterpieces it contains but local guide and native, Elena Fulceri, has taken on the challenge of acting as host. Anyone wishing to take part in the completely free event (you just pay for your ticket to the museum and your own lunch afterward) needs to register through EventBrite here.

This event is recommended for anyone who has already been to the Uffizi and wishes to study 5 works of art that are not considered among the most famous in the museum’s collection. Registered participants should receive information on  which ones will be studied a few days before the event.

If request is high enough for the event, Elena will organize another session in the afternoon at 3:30pm. I’m signed up for 11am to go see these “off the beaten path” works of art slowly, as it is likely I have not stopped to look at them closely before. See you there!

room-geo-maps

Starting tomorrow, March 25, visitors will have almost 100 days in which to enjoy a very special temporary viewing at the Uffizi Gallery of several works inspired by Leonardo da Vinci in a room normally closed to the public, the Room of Geographic Maps.

From March 25 through June 29, 2014, the Room of Geographic Maps which houses precious frescoes by Stefano Bonsignori of the territories of the Tuscan Grand Duchy located next to Hall 15, hall dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci, will have 4 paintings that are copies or derivative from original works by Leonardo: the “Leda with Swan“, “Virgin with Child and St. Anne” and 2 wooden panels showing the “Fight for the Flag“, copies from the mural painting by Leonardo for the “Battle of Anghiari” for Palazzo Vecchio in 1503. tavola-doria

In particular, the temporary exhibit is to welcome the arrival of the “Tavola Doria” to the Uffizi, one of these two wooden panels showing a part of the Battle of Anghiari. The work of art was illegally taken from Italy and returned in 2012 as a donation from the Fuji Art Museum in Tokyo. As part of the agreement for the permanent return of the work to Italy, the Tavola Doria will return to Japan at the end of June and remain there for 4 years before it definitely remains at the Uffizi so this a very special occasion to admire the work in Florence.

The Tavola Doria has been restored by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure since its return to Italy in 2012. It has been in Rome, Anghiari and Florence since then at special exhibits.

The exhibit is a chance to also admire the room, normally closed to the public, as well as 3 other works inspired by Leonardo as the master in the 15th century that inspired many other young artists. While the Tavola Doria might not be an exact duplicate, it calls into mind the essence of that Battle of Anghiari that Leonardo created but left no trace of. This is a chance to admire extraordinary works in this special context.

leda-st-anna

Nascita di Venere - Botticelli

All visitors to the Uffizi Gallery should expect to see some form of nudity or other in the classical Roman and Greek sculptures as well as paintings, from Botticelli’s Birth of Venus to Titian’s Venus of Urbino.

This past Saturday, visitors to the Uffizi got an unexpected display of nudity, inspired precisely by Botticell’s masterpiece. A 25-year old Spaniard, in front of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus“, quickly striped naked and proceeded to kneel and drop rose petals in front of the painting while exclaiming “Es arte, es poesia” – “it’s art, it’s poetry”!

The Uffizi Gallery director, Antonio Natali, commented: “Yes, I was told of what happened. What can I say? In a million and 900 hundred visitors a year, there are people who are disturbed, restless, passionate… and he must have suffered the syndrome of Adam….”. The director jokes as there was no damage and the custodians were quick to intervene.

The young man was calm as he dressed again and as he was accompanied out of the museum by local police. He was charged with indecent public exposure.

amorino

As part of the celebrations in commemoration of the 450th year since Michelangelo’s death, the Uffizi has opened up 2 more rooms under renovation for the last year as part of the New Uffizi project today February 17. A much more enjoyable way for all who visit the Uffizi to celebrate over a one-day commemorative event.

20140217-143810.jpgThe two new rooms, 33 and 34 located right before hall 35 dedicated to Michelangelo, contain sculptures selected to highlight the works of classical antiquity that influenced Michelangelo’s formation as an artist. The rooms, which used to house works by 16th century Tuscan and Lombard painters before restoration, have changed dramatically. The first, 33, is dedicated to Greek Portraits while the second houses works that evoke those classical figures present in the San Marco Garden owned by the Medici where the very young Michelangelo at 13 years old studied classical sculpture.

The green used for the walls of the two rooms was inspired by the green backgrounds often used in Paolo Uccello’s work in the 15th century and serves as a sharp contrast with the white marble sculptures. In comparison to the statues presents in the Corridors of the Uffizi, this background invites viewers to stop and study the features, frowns, noses and expressions of the people and scenes portrayed. There are no cords that set you away from the sculptures in Room 33 so you can go right up to explore them from various angles.

classical-san-marco

These classical works inspired artists – and the Medici themselves – of the Renaissance as models of perfection and character in the neoclassical era. The Garden of San Marco, in particular, created by Lorenzo de Medici and dotted with statues, portraits, sarcophagi and more was set to inspire the sculptors of the time to relearn what the ancient Greeks were capable of doing and to replicate that skill. Room 34 houses that type of work that led to Michelangelo’s great sculptural masterpieces which today can be admired at the Galleria dell’Accademia with his David, Prisoners and St. Matthew, his Baccus at the Bargello and his magnificent sculptures in the New Sacristy within the Medici Chapels.

san-marco-bas-reliefs

uffizi-burial-remains

As work continues on the New Uffizi project, workers came upon human remains under the reading room of the Uffizi Library, right next to the Piazza del Grano. Over the last few months, scientists on the now archaeological site have determined there are about 60 skeletons from the 5th-6th century.

The findings reveal an important era of the city’s history, in the late Roman period when this area what located outside of the Roman city walls and continuously flooded by the river. Up to now, research had never revealed that the area has been lived on, actually it was often used as a dumping ground as pieces of construction material were the only things found when any type of digging went on (at higher levels). It might have been the growth of this material itself which made the earth in this area grow, when memory of the burial ground had been forgotten.

remains-uffizi-libraryWhat the new findings indicate is that the area was used as an emergency burial place, likely as a result of an epidemic in the town. The way the skeletons are unevenly positioned, here and there with feet next to heads and very close to each other indicate they were done in a hurry and sought to make the most of the space available. Scientists thus believe it must have been a summertime epidemic, when the river was low and this area was revealed, soft with the river sediments deposited during the winter months when rain elevated the river.

Studies will continue and hopefully reveal more about the actual cause of death and offer new ideas of what life must have been like in the Florence of many centuries ago. What we do know is that when Vasari constructed his Uffizi in this area he had most of the late medieval buildings destroyed, traces of which have also been found as work on the New Uffizi continues.

veronese

Starting February 11 and running until April 29, 2014, if you visit the Uffizi Gallery on a Tuesday you can also add on a special, free guided visit to the extraordinary Contini Bonacossi Collection.

You do need to reserve your spot, as the guided visits of an hour long are limited to a maximum of 25 people. Visits are only planned for Tuesdays at 10:30am and 3pm.

To book, call Firenze Musei at 055.294883 and plan on visiting the museum before you access the Contini Bonacossi collection, as it is in a separate building. The spot for meeting the group is by the “Sala Divani” between the entrance to the Blue Rooms and the elevators on the first floor which is toward the end of the itinerary of visiting the Uffizi Gallery.

Please note: If you plan to take advantage of this free guided visit, by calling Firenze Musei you book your ticket to the Uffizi Gallery as well so there is no need to purchase separate tickets online.

The Vasari Corridor

Special opening of the Vasari Corridor was just announced starting from February 7 (tomorrow!) through April 30 with 6 openings every week.

Guided visits will include entry ticket and booking fees to the Uffizi Gallery but do not include the visit to the Uffizi, just the corridor.

Visits are for Wednesdays at 2:30pm and 3pm, Thursdays at 10;30am and 11am and Fridays at 2:30pm and 3pm. Each group will be limited to 25 people and the visit lasts about 75 minutes, with exit at the Boboli Gardens.

To reserve your visit, you need to call Firenze Musei at +39-055-294-883, it is the only way to access these visits. Don’t delay, spots are going to be reserved fast!

Note: If you don’t get access to the Corridor through these times, remember you can still visit the Corridor at other times with external tour agencies.

New Michelangelo Hall 35

The Polo Museale released numbers last week of visits to the various museums in Florence.

The Uffizi saw an increase of almost 6% from 2012, with a total of 1,875,176 visitors in 2013.

The months of October, December, August and May were the months with the most growth, with increases of over 10% in numbers of total visitors, while the remaining months all saw smaller increases.

As the New Uffizi project continues, the museum hopes to be able to continue improving its services to all visitors so that all those that come to Florence and to the Uffizi are satisfied with their visit. In the meantime, please remember that the museum still has several ongoing renovation projects designed to bring the Uffizi to modern standards.

baroncelli

The exhibition TURNABOUT. The hidden side of the collections, from December 17, 2013 to February 2 , 2014, will reveal through forty works the stories contained in the rear which are almost never visible from the side we most commonly see them.

You will find amazing discoveries as other paintings, sketches, drafts of paintings, poems, handwritten notes, numbers of old inventories, tags for exhibits or certificates of ownership and much more are revealed in this interesting temporary exhibit at the Sala delle Poste Reali of the Uffizi.

luigi-russolo

The exhibition, conceived by the Uffizi Gallery, organized by the Friends of the Uffizi and curated by Giovanna Giusti with the contribution of the Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, is part of the cycle “Never Seen Before” which every December presents pieces of the collections of the Florentine museum little known to the general public.

“I think it’s an amazing way to end a historic year for the Friends of the Uffizi,” declared president of the Friends of the Uffizi Maria Vittoria Rimbotti. For our twenty years of life we offer to the city a masterpiece by Bill Viola, one of the greatest artists on a global level, and the new appointment with the “Never Been Seen” that enhances and presents some of the treasures that the Uffizi Gallery preserves.”

“With this selection of works,” says Giovanna Giusti, curator of the exhibition, “the curious visitor will be involved with the “two-faced visibility” which is generally just reserved for “insiders” so that together with paintings, sculptures and furniture of the highest quality, even mysterious numbers crossed out, once deciphered, will reveal their important contribution in clarifying the path of the collection of the works.”

The exhibition Turnabout, consisting of paintings, antique marbles, tiles, a cabinet and an altar, offers a double vision of the works, presenting the front and back. The signs that these masterpieces often hide in areas not visible to the public will be able to speak to us about their lives and their journey through the collections.

For example, among the works from the 15th century, the scene of the Annunciation is painted on the back of the boards of the noble portraits of the Baroncelli, while in the Triptych Froment, who in the severity of Alps culture presents episodes from the life of Christ, culminating at the center in the resurrection of Lazarus, the doors once closed, present the Madonna and Child along with the patrons of the work.

altar

There is even a travel altar, closed within a precious trunk which was used in the Medici court. That and a cabinet from the 19th century offer several surprises.

In addition pieces from the Uffizi’s collections, the exhibition will also host works on loan from the Palatine Gallery, the Bargello Museum, the Gallery of Modern Art in Palazzo Pitti, the Medici Villa of Petraia and Opificio delle Pietre Dure.

TURNABOUT. The hidden side of the collections
Uffizi Gallery – Sala delle Reali Poste
December 17, 2013 – February 2, 2014
Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday , hours 10:00 to 17:00
Free admission

Self-Portrait of Bill Viola

A new work by Bill Viola, entitled Self Portrait, Submerged will be shown at the Uffizi in the ex-church of San Piero Scheraggio, starting next week from December 16th – 22nd. The animated work depicts the artist immersed underwater in a state of peace, with subtle animation as ripples pass across his body.

After December 22nd, the work will be moved to the Vasari Corridor as a part of the Uffizi’s permanent self-portrait collection which includes some of the most famous masters of painting from the 16th to the 20th century, including, Filippo Lippi, Rembrandt, Velazquez, Delacroix and Ensor.

The non-profit organization, Amici degli Uffizi, secured the acquisition of this work with sponsorship from the Friends of the Uffizi. The association promotes cultural and educational activities which enhance public awareness and appreciation of the Uffizi Gallery, and have also played a fundamental role in opening the museum’s collection to contemporary art.

BILL VIOLA. Self portrait – Submerged
Uffizi Gallery – ex church of San Pier Scheraggio
December 17 – 22, 2013
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm
Free entrance