Museums and Collections

The itinerary we propose intends to highlight the places, often treasure troves in and of themselves, along with the works of art that they safeguarded during the 1966 flood and still safeguard today.

In the aftermath of the devastation, the whole world looked towards the great Florentine museums with apprehension. One of the most notable was, of course, the Uffizi Gallery, which in the exhibition is represented by some excellent Roman-era sculptures, then located in the underground storage, and by a large 17th-century tapestry made by the Grand Ducal workshops, once found on the ground floor, as well as other exemplary works, Medici and Lorrain busts and furniture.

In the Bargello Museum, in addition to the impressive marble and terracotta sculptures, the Armoury was devastated, which is recalled here through the various pieces on display, some of which are never-before-seen. This was one of the few Florentine museum collections that, for the most part, was sent away for restoration, in this case, to the Waffensammlung del Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, one of most avant-garde institutions specializing in this field.

Among the minor branches of the great state collections, the Cenacolo di San Salvi held a rich collection of plaster casts by Lorenzo Bartolini, a great master of Tuscan Neo-Classicism. Today, these works are on display in the Accademia Gallery.

The two gilded bronze medals recently recovered from the tomb of the last Medici Grand Duke, Gian Gastone, reminds us of an underground historical-artistic heritage forgotten for decades. As part of “Progetto Medici” (2003-2008), the medals were rediscovered among his rich grave goods, encrusted with mud from 1966, under the crypt of the Medici Chapels.

The Archaeological Museum, completely devastated in November 1966, has contributed a powerful symbol of the marred ancient and noble Tuscan territory: the Mater Matuta. Restored in 1970 at the Centro di Restauro of the then-Soprintendenza alle Antichità d’Etruria (specifically established by the Ministry immediately after the flood and institutionalized in 1971), the Etruscan masterpiece is an excellent example of a restoration methodology shared in the aftermath of the catastrophe and adhered to since then: eliminate ancient and added restorations, aiming at recuperating, recomposing and restoring the original according to a rigorous and philological parameter, safeguarding, in the meantime, the overall reading of the object with evident and reversible integrations. The important Cinerary Vase from Montescudaio is grouped together with the Mater Matura, a one-of-a-kind object, as well as artefacts currently undergoing restoration or in need of restoration.

Of all the Civic Museums, one of the hardest hit was the Bardini Museum, located near the riverbank in a palace donated to the city of Florence by Stefano Bardini, together with his collection. Among the collection’s highlights that were made victim to the river’s waters were the enormous wooden model of San Firenze designed by Pierfrancesco Silvani (displayed in the following rooms) and the collection of musical instruments. A direct comparison between two 17th-century instruments, which met different fates, is presented here: a lute still bearing highly visible signs from the devastation and a mandolin recovered and put back together.

Alongside the large museums, small and precious public and private collections make up one of the most relevant identifying characteristics of the dense Florentine museum network. Within the private collections, one of the most fascinating is the Horne Museum, a house museum belonging to the Foundation founded by Sir Herbert Percy Horne, located not far from Santa Croce. After a long restoration of the building and its works, the museum reopened only in 1975 with a new set-up, overseen by Ugo Procacci and Luciano Bellosi.