Why is it called the Uffizi Gallery?The building, built in the 15th Century, originally functioned as the offices (uffici in Italian) of the city administration, and that’s where the gallery gets its name. The building also housed the Medici art collection, which was inaccessible until the gallery opened its doors in 1789, a date which leads some art historians to call the Uffizi the first museum in Europe. The Uffizi Gallery is home to some of the most iconic paintings by Italian artists such as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Michelangelo’s Tono Doni, and a self-portrait by Raphael, plus works by Albrecht Dürer and Flemish and Dutch painters such as Rubens and Rembrandt.
Who built the Uffizi Gallery?The Uffizi came about as a result of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who made it his mission to bring several important administrative institutions under one roof. The building was designed and built by Vasari, Buontalenti, and Parigi the Younger between 1559 and 1581 and shortly after its completion it became the home of the art collection managed by Cosimo’s heir, Francesco de’ Medici. As the Medici declined in power, they bequeathed the contents of the Uffizi to the city of Florence on the condition that it should always remain inside the city. The Uffizi Gallery is also considered to be the source of the word ‘gallery’ to refer to an art museum - a gallery is an architectural term for a walkway which is open on one side, and the galleries in the Uffizi were originally used to show some of the art.
Should I book a guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery?It can be fun to dive deeper into the most important works of the gallery with an expert guide, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Art history lovers might appreciate being shown around and hearing more information, or they might prefer to do their own research and proceed at their own pace. When the gallery is at its busiest it can be much easier to explore the different rooms by yourself rather than having to keep up with a guide. Having said that, there are several providers who offer high-quality tours of the Uffizi, so if you generally prefer having a guide with you, there are plenty of good options to consider.
How long does a visit to the Uffizi take?While you can walk through the gallery complex in about two hours, you will probably want to take a little longer to really enjoy the art on display. You should probably plan to spend about three to four hours inside, while big fans of art history could spend most of a day exploring and admiring the pieces being exhibited. The collection is huge and it’s impossible to give each piece of art the same amount of attention - but you’re welcome to try!
Can I take photographs or sketch inside the gallery?Photography is allowed inside the gallery, but only for personal use and visitors should make sure that their flash is turned off. Selfie-sticks, tripods, or other professional photography equipment is not allowed. Sketching inside the museum is only allowed with a pencil and paper or using digital devices such as tablets - paints, charcoal, and other mediums aren’t allowed.