A Brief History of Museo Stefano Bardini in Florence
What is Museo Stefano Bardini?
Museo Stefano Bardini is a museum with over 3,600 pieces, including works from Donatello and the della Robbia brothers, assembled by a discerning 19th-century antiquarian and art collector.
Museo Stefano Bardini History
His name may not have the renown of the Renaissance masters or their patrons, but noted 19th-century antiquarian Stefano Bardini made a real impact on Florence’s artistic scene. He turned collecting and trading art and antiques into his life’s work before purchasing what is now the Bardini Museum – a space he later donated to the Municipality of Florence on his death in 1922.
Once a 13th-century convent complex named San Gregorio della Pace, the building was converted to its current use in the 1880s. Bardini used it to display his personal collections while also running an antiques business. Even now, some visitors and locals describe visiting the blue-walled, gem-laden Bardini Museum as an experience akin to browsing an antiques store: one in which not every piece is identified and documented, as Bardini wasn’t always rigorous about keeping proper records of his exhibits.
Nonetheless, the museum, with over 3,600 pieces, is home to a variety of remarkable paintings, sculptures, objets d’art and antique furniture. Works from Donatello, the della Robbia brothers, and the famous St Michael Archangel by Antonio del Pollaiolo all reside within this eclectic space in the heart of San Niccolò. Besides the more recognizable works, there’s also a host of tapestries, ceramics, weapons, and old musical instruments, certain to delight magpie types and horrify minimalists! After intense restoration for nearly a decade, Bardini’s remarkable collection has been open to the public since 2009. Crowds and queues are not usually a problem, though the museum does draw more casual visitors when it brings in international artists to complement the permanent collection, as it did with a globally celebrated John Currin exhibition in 2016.
A final tip: if you’ve got little ones trailing you on your Tuscan adventure, the Bardini Museum is particularly well regarded by city residents for its weekend activities and labs for children.
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