The city of Florence, with its famous Duomo domed cathedral, is the heart of Italy’s Tuscany region, an area known for its scenic beauty and architectural splendors. So it is fitting that one of Italy’s most notable Renaissance art museums is located in Florence, the city of Michelangelo, da Vinci and the Medici’s.
The Uffizi, meaning ‘offices’ in Italian, was built in the latter half of the 1500s and intended as an office building for magistrates, judges and merchants. The upper floor, however, became a private area for the use and accommodation of the ruling Grand Ducal family, the Medici, and their select guests. The family began to collect Roman sculptures, manuscripts, gems, coins and ‘any kind of wonder’ that they found interesting, and displayed them in their private area for their guests to admire.
To accommodate the growing collection, the architect Buontalenti designed an octagonal shaped Tribune or display chamber that was built in 1584 and remains the core of the Uffizi, still in its original shape. The number of artworks soon outgrew the Tribune and more and more rooms on the top floor were appropriated for housing the collection.
It was only during the reign of Peter Leopold of the Lorraines in 1769, however, that the concept of a museum was considered, and that the upper floor of the Uffizi building was opened to the public. In 1865, the Uffizi was officially proclaimed a museum.
Today the Uffizi art museum consists of 50 rooms and is one of Italy’s most visited museums. It was ranked 25th for art museum attendance in the world in 2013 by The Art Newspaper (Special Report Spring/summer 2014).
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A museum like this cannot be missed. With all of the world-class artwork and history tied into the very core of the building, seeing this museum will very likely touch you in places that you never thought possible. The building is amazing, and the masterpieces filling its interior are truly some of the greatest works ever created.