What’s there to see inside the Galleria dell’Accademia?The highlight of the gallery is the original statue of David by Michelangelo, but you will also be able to see other works by the artist, including his four unfinished Prisoners, which had been intended to decorate the tomb of Pope Julius II, and an unfinished statue of St Matthew. There’s also a version of the Pietà, but it’s unclear whether this can truly be attributed to Michelangelo. Other halls in the gallery contain paintings by Florentine artists active from the 13th to the 16th centuries, including works by Botticelli and Ghirlandaio, and an exhibition of Florentine Gothic art. The Gipsoteca Bartolini contains plaster casts that were collected so that students of the Academy could study the great masters without having to travel to see the originals. The Museum of Musical Instruments inside the gallery is also well worth a visit, as you’ll be able to see some of the earliest pianos ever built and the only well-conserved viola made by Anton Stradivari.
What’s the story behind the statue of David?The story of David is a long and complicated one! The statue was originally commissioned as part of a series of 12 statues by Donatello, intended to sit on the buttresses of Florence Cathedral. Two figures were made out of terracotta between 1410 and 1463 before Agostino di Duccio was commissioned to sculpt a statue of David out of marble. Marble was sourced from Carrara and brought to Florence at great expense, and Agostino began to roughly shape the torso, legs, and feet before the project was called to a halt, possibly due to the death of Donatello. Ten years later, Antonio Rossellino was ordered to take up the project, but he didn’t make much progress before abandoning the sculpture. The marble sat unused for 26 years in the cathedral workshop, sustaining damage from the elements, before the authorities decided they would search for someone who could complete the work. Several artists were consulted, including Leonardo da Vinci, but Michelangelo was eventually awarded the contract. He worked on the piece for over two years, creating the 6-ton masterpiece you can see today. It quickly became obvious that there was no way to put such a huge and heavy statue on the cathedral roof and, after much debate, David was placed next to the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s town hall. It stood there from June 1504 until 1873, when it was moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia in order to protect it from damage. A replica of the statue can still be seen outside the Palazzo Vecchio, so you can visit that as well to get an idea of how David would have looked in its original location.
How much time should I plan to spend inside the Accademia Gallery?The Galleria dell’Accademia is small when compared to the Uffizi Gallery, but it’s full of interesting things to see. You can view David and many of the other key works of art within an hour, but anyone who particularly enjoys art can plan to spend two to three hours exploring the halls of the Accademia Gallery.
Can I sketch inside the gallery?Sketching with pencil and paper is allowed as long as you aren’t in the way of other visitors to the gallery. No other materials are allowed, especially paints of different kinds. Photography is also permitted, but only without the use of flash, and selfie-sticks and other pieces of equipment aren’t allowed inside the museum.
Will my children enjoy a trip?Although there is a special children’s audio guide available, it’s possible younger children might find this gallery a little boring after a while. Although they’ll probably recognize and enjoy spotting David and may also enjoy the exhibits featuring musical instruments, the exhibitions aren’t particularly designed with children in mind. Children can enter free of charge, but make sure to bring a form of photo ID with you in order to take advantage of the free entry.