A Refined Celebration
A highly-refined exhibition strategy and design was adopted for the extension of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, the museum that houses magnificent architectural, artistic and sculptural elements from the Florentine Cathedral, celebrating their many centuries of history. Located close to the apse of Santa Maria del Fiore, the museum tackles the tricky issue of moving precious artistic works, forms of culture and the elements that make up an architectural structure in order to preserve them intact and pass on their memory to future generations. In this particular case, the refurbishment came up with some novel solutions. During the design process, full consideration was given to: the fact that the building is a complex blend of pre-existing architecture; the relationship between originals and copies; the relationship between the various elements that make up the museum’s heritage and interconnection with architectural spaces and volumes; the evolving relationship between a fluid through-route and places of focus on the museum’s many highlights; a conception of spaces and intersections from which to glean what, to some extent, is explanatory information; and to achieve the implicit seductive effects engendered by the museum’s architectural and artistic masterpieces. The explicit and latent relationship with the nearby Duomo is an ever-present element, a necessary prerequisite that characterizes the renewed museum’s evocative approach, which it uses to trigger a whole sequence of references. Significant clusters of this design-led approach may be found in the former Teatro degli Intrepidi atrium, which has now been included as part of the museum. The hall presents itself as a particularly tall rectangular space. On one side is a reconstruction at natural scale of the Duomo façade from the days of Arnolfo di Cambio (the late 13th Century), making it possible to house the original sculptures that once adorned the façade, partially reproducing their original placement and re-establishing the sense-perceptions beholders would have experienced. Opposite this is a schematic and abstract marble wall with regularly-spaced openings against which the three doors from the Baptistery are laid. Overhead lighting from the large skylight floods the space, triggering an immediate discourse between the two walls and, in synthesis, re-establishing a correlation between two actually-existing monuments: the Duomo and the Battistero. Other views on the Arnolfo-period elevation model may be seen in the galleries behind the abstract façade and the belvedere on the museum’s top floor. There are also special rooms for Michelangelo’s Pietà, a refined environment dominated by a group of sculptures on an elegant stone base, and for Donatello’s Maddalena.