The Uffizi Gallery (or Galleria degli Uffizi, in Italian) is the most famous museum in Florence, and one of the most famous and important museums in the world.
Uffizi Gallery History
The building that houses the Galleria degli Uffizi dates back to 1560. It was built by Giorgio Vasari for Cosimo I de’ Medici, to house the administrative and legal offices (uffizi in ancient Italian) of Florence.
Giorgio Vasari completed it a few years later with the addition of a corridor (Corridoio Vasariano or Vasari Corridor) connecting it with the Pitti Palace, new residence of the Medici family.
In 1574 the works, not yet completed, was entrusted by Francesco I de’ Medici, son of Cosimo I, to Buontalenti.
In 1580 the work was completed and the following year Francesco I decided to use the rooftop loggia as personal gallery. He placed there his collection of paintings from the fifteenth century, as well as cameos, stones, jewelery, statues, bronzes, miniatures, scientific instruments, and natural rarities.
Since then, the Uffizi building was enlarged according to its new function. Always on a project by Buontalenti, were built the theater and the tribune.
Between the sixteenth and seventeenth century were built the Hall of Geographic Maps, dedicated to maps of the Medici domains in Florence, Siena and island of Elba, and the Mathematics Room which featured scientific instruments very innovative for the period.
In 1588 the Uffizi Gallery was enriched with the presence of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, a world famous workshop still existing that provide stunning semi-precious stones mosaics.
Vittoria della Rovere, wife of Grand Duke Francesco III and the last descendant of the Dukes of Urbino, then enriched the Uffizi Gallery of beautiful works of art by Titian, Piero della Francesca, Raphael, Federico Barocci and others.
Cosimo III then proceeded with other acquisitions, such as the beautiful Flemish paintings (for instance by Rubens) and the Medici Venus (Venere Medici), a rare original Greek sculpture.
In the Sala della Fonderia were collected instead objects that aroused the curiosity of both the Medici family and the intellectuals of the Renaissance, such as mummies and stuffed animals.
With the end of the Medici dynasty, the Uffizi Gallery maintained its integrity thanks to the legacy of the last heir. Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici left everything to the Lorraine family, but asked that the whole collection remained intact and were preserved in Florence.
The House of Lorraine opened the gallery to the public in 1769 and reorganized the collections according to the criteria of the Enlightenment, that is separating the works of the major arts from those of the minor arts.
The collections of weapons, majolica and scientific instruments were then moved. Since then, the Lorraine family decided to collect mainly works at European level, such as paintings by Titian, Giorgione, and Dürer.
During the nineteenth century the Uffizi Gallery was enriched with sculptures of famous people – some of these made by Giovanni Dupré – which were placed in the niches under the Uffizi portico.
In the twentieth century the Uffizi were characterized more as a gallery of paintings: many of the sculptures were moved to other museums in Florence, and many paintings belonged to collections of churches and religious institutions were acquired.
Today, the Uffizi Museum is being expanded, to allow visitors to admire the many precious art works preserved in the storage of the building.
Uffizi Gallery Collections
The Uffizi Tribune Room is the oldest room of the museum, and became a romantic symbol made famous by the European fashion of the grand tour.
The room is richly decorated with enamels and shells according to the theme of the four elements (Earth, Air, Water, Fire), typical of the scientific curiosity of the Renaissance.
In the Tribuna degli Uffizi you can still breathe the original spirit of the Galleria degli Uffizi, designed to arouse wonder with its works of art.
The Uffizi Gallery Museum is divided into rooms dedicated to different artistic periods.
The Middle Age Halls feature the three Virgin in Majesty by Cimabue, Giotto and Buoninsegna, and compostions by Sienese and Florentine schools, including the Adoration of the Magi (Adorazione dei Magi) by Gentile da Fabriano.
The Renaissance Halls feature paintings of Masolino, Masaccio, Paolo Uccello, Fra Angelico, Filippo Lippi and Piero della Francesca (including the famous Portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino).
The Hall of Botticelli is particularly impressive, as it houses two of the most famous paintings in the world: the Allegory of Spring (Allegoria della Primavera) and the Birth of Venus (Nascita di Venere).
These paintings were made in the eighties of the fifteenth century and are the first example in Italy of a secular subject in a painting of such a large size.
In this room is witnessed throughout the artistic evolution of Sandro Botticelli, from early works such as the Madonna of the Rosegarden to the more mature works such as the Madonna of the Pomegranate.
In this room there are also some Flemish masterpieces, which witness the vibrancy and cultural openness in Renaissance Florence.
Another room is dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci and houses his Annunciation and his Adoration of the Magi, along with paintings by Perugino and Signorelli.
Other rooms are dedicated to to the works of the Renaissance outside the city of Florence and house masterpieces by Dürer, Mantegna and Correggio.
The halls dedicated to the sixteenth century feature the wonderful works of Michelangelo as the Doni Tondo, as well as paintings by Titian and Tintoretto.
The Red Room and the Blue Room expose instead compositions of Flemish painters and sculptures, along with paintings by Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino, and Bronzino.
The Halls of Caravaggio and of Caravagesques house world famous masterpieces such as the Bacchus and the Medusa, as well as paintings by Guido Reni.
The Uffizi Gallery includes finally the Cabinet of Drawings and Prints, which features one of the largest collections in the world and includes drawings of Leonardo and Michelangelo, and the Contini-Bonacossi Collection acquired at the end of the nineties which includes works by Andrea del Castagno, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Goya, as well as rooms dedicated to temporary exhibitions.
Galleria degli Uffizi - Piazzale degli Uffizi - 50122 Firenze, Italy
From Tuesday to Sunday, from 8.15 am to 6.50 pm
The ticket office closes at 6.05 pm
Closing operations begin at 6.35 pm
Closed: Mondays, New Year’s Day, May 1st and Christmas Day
Full price: € 6,50
Reduced: € 3,25
Free admission: Firenze Card owners, children under 6 years old, disabled people and their helpers, authorized tour guides and leaders, teachers accompanying school groups
The cost of the ticket may vary during special events or thematic exhibitions.
Uffizi and Florence Guide Books
Here some of the best art and guide books about the Uffizi Gallery and other Florentine museums and artists:
Hotels near Uffizi Gallery
Recommended hotels, b&b and apartments for rent located near the Uffizi Gallery:
Hotel degli Orafi (elegant 4 star hotel close to the museum with a view on Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio and Florence Cathedral)
Corte dei Neri Residenza d’Epoca (classic style bed and breakfast with good price-quality ratio)
Appartamento Signoria (stunning apartment in a 14th century palace, 2 minute walk from the gallery)
Uffizi Home and Florence (elegant Tuscan style apartment, 100 metres far from the Uffizi and Piazza della Signoria)