Huddled under the replicated statue of David in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, I waited with my History of Art class for our professor to retrieve our tickets to the Galleria degli Uffizi. The excitement was palpable. Although it was far from being my first time at the Uffizi, there is always something exciting about visiting one of the most famous galleries in the world…especially when it is with a class. The proud history nerd that I am, museum visits are my (and I’m sure many of my peers’) favorite aspect of LdM courses. Instead of merely acknowledging the artworks as another pretty painting, on-site lectures not only tie in course material, but they bring the paintings to life. The gleam of a projection against a screen can never compare with learning about the history of a painting in its very presence. Every corner you turn, you’re assailed by artworks from the grotesque on the ceiling to the line of portraits that stare down at you from above. Marble statues that served as inspiration for Michelangelo’s sculptures scatter around the gallery, each with its own illustrious history.
The best part about the way the Uffizi is curated, is that it is arranged by period. After my peers and I drank in the austere portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino, we wound our way into the recent addition of the Botticelli rooms. My first visit to the Uffizi was before the completion of the Botticelli room and this new arrangement is more spacious and allows the audience a better view of his masterpieces. Next to the paintings are detailed descriptions and analysis of his work that offer audiences a better understanding of the artwork. It was especially interesting to see the contrast between Botticelli’s secular and religious paintings, and they offer insight into the effect religious fanatic Fra Savonarola had on the artist.
After the Botticelli rooms, we discussed the similarities and differences between his and Leonardo’s style or painting in the Leonardo room. We then continued our lecture on the beginnings of Mannerism with The Holy Family by Michelangelo and paintings by Tiziano and Parmigianino, before moving on to Baroque with Caravaggio.
Another interesting addition to the gallery are the rooms featuring works by Suor Plautilla Nelli. One of the few 16th century female artists, her works are alongside her male counterparts in a special exhibition curated as part of the museum effort to increase the visibility of past female artists.
If you’re in Florence, I highly recommend that you visit the newly added rooms and exhibitions in the Uffizi Gallery, because no matter how many times you go, each time you’ll be in awe.
________________________________________________________________Nina Hsu has always been passionate about all things art and history. She is currently double majoring in Conservation Studies and History of Art at LdM. In her free time, you can find her running around the streets of Florence looking for her next new lunch or coffee spot.