The Donatello Hall remains closed for restorations and reorganization

National Museum of Bargello: Donatello Hall, pantheon of Renaissance Sculpture, closes for Restorations and Reorganization

From June 5th to October, the hall will be closed to the public. 13 of the 67 masterpieces will be temporarily displayed in the ground floor exhibition hall to remain accessible to visitors.

Florence, May 23, 2024 – The Donatello Hall, the central hub of the National Museum of Bargello and guardian of outstanding masterpieces of Renaissance sculpture, will be closed to the public from June 5th until the end of October for restoration and reorganization work.

The Hall – formerly the Hall of Audience – is the most imposing space in the museum’s tour, concentrated with Renaissance art history and containing key works by Donatello such as the bronze David, the marble David, St. George, Amore-Attis, the Marzocco, and the Madonna di Via Pietrapiana, recently acquired for the museum by the Ministry of Culture. It also includes renowned masterpieces by other masters of the time like Verrocchio’s David, a vast collection of Della Robbia’s works, reliefs by Ghiberti and Brunelleschi, among others, totaling 67 pieces. The hall will be closed to enable significant restoration and reorganization work that has been planned for some time. During the closure, a core group of 13 masterpieces (10 reliefs and 3 bronze statues) will be transferred to one of the two ground-floor exhibition rooms to allow visitors to continue to appreciate them. The ground-floor room will be accessible starting June 7th and throughout the restoration period.

This project follows the completed restorations of the Ivory Room, the Magdalene Chapel, the Sacristy, the Medieval Sculpture Room, the Medal Room, the Baroque Room, the Islamic Room, and the Majolica Room (the latter two are almost finished). It is part of the extensive renovation program launched in 2016 across the five Bargello Museums sites.

The restoration work in the Donatello Hall, funded with 300,000 euros from the Administration’s budget, will be extensive as it involves the repair of almost 1000 square meters of surfaces, divided into 800 square meters of walls and 180 of vaulted ceilings.

The work includes conservation maintenance of plastered and painted surfaces, from widespread cleaning to the removal of unsuitable existing paints, from consolidating portions of plaster to filling cracks, and finally, lime painting the surfaces to uniform the final effect of the walls or vaulted ceilings.

For the decorated surfaces (about 200 square meters), dry cleaning will be carried out, followed by chromatic reintegration to mimic the missing parts.

The intervention will also preserve the visible traces on the north wall corresponding to the ancient cell division from the building’s use as a prison, which divided the Hall into four floors, each with thirty-two cells. In 1574, at the end of Cosimo I de’ Medici’s rule, the building was used as a prison and headquarters of the “Bargello,” the chief of police. Only the restorations begun in 1858 and completed in 1865 restored the palace—and with it, the Hall—to its former glory, ready to host the first National Museum of Italy.

The restoration planning involved assigning the Direction of Works and Safety Coordination to the Sertec S.A.S. firm of Messina C. and Paolini L. It required a complex organization of moving and securing the 67 works in the Hall before constructing the extensive scaffolding. During the works, a partial restoration of the painted surfaces affecting the lower section of the adjacent Verone will also be carried out.

The Donatello Hall will reopen with a renewed setup, benefiting from the new lighting system thanks to the generous donation of 166,183.52 euros from the “Friends of the Bargello” in 2022.

To allow the public to continue to admire its main masterpieces, a selection of the most representative works, curated by Ilaria Ciseri, head of the National Museum of Bargello collections, will be displayed in one of the ground-floor exhibition rooms. This exhibit will focus on the sculpture of Donatello and some of his contemporaries, open to the public from June 7th. On June 5th and 6th, to facilitate the movement and setup, the public will not be able to access the Hall or view the selected pieces on the ground floor.

In the center of the room, three exceptional masterpieces of Florentine sculpture will be displayed: Donatello’s famous David, the first bronze statue of a nude, life-sized and in the round, created after antiquity. Another world-renowned bronze by Donatello, Amore-Attis, a pagan deity from ancient Frigia, reminiscent of the classical theme of putti and spiritelli, one of the artist’s favorite subjects, will be exhibited alongside Verrocchio’s bronze David. The walls will feature three reliefs by Luca della Robbia, another founding father of the Renaissance and inventor of glazed terracotta, and the two bronze panels by Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti from the 1401 competition for the second door of the Baptistery, along with two painted terracotta high reliefs by Dello Delli and Michele da Firenze from the 1420s. Finally, two more works by Donatello, the bas-relief of the Crucifixion and the Madonna of Via Pietrapiana, will be displayed, concluding with the Madonna Panciatichi by one of Donatello’s best pupils, Desiderio da Settignano.

Curated by the Press Office of Bargello Museums
Ludovica V. Zarrilli
+39 393 9577255