In 1784 the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Peter Leopold, founded the Accademia di Belle Arti, a school destined to the teaching of art. Incorporating prestigious institutions such as the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, it had its premises in the ancient buildings of the Hospital of San Matteo and the convent of San Niccolò di Cafaggio.
Founded along with the Accademia di Belle Arti was the Galleria dell'Accademia, a museum destined to house the works of art belonging to the art school, which would also serve as models in the training of the artists.
Among the works present in the Gallery from its foundation is the plaster model of Giambologna's sculptural group the Rape of the Sabines, now displayed in the Sala del Colosso.
The Gallery was progressively extended through the addition of numerous antique paintings originating from the churches and convents suppressed by the Grand Duke Peter Leopold at the end of the eighteenth century, and later by Napoleon in 1810. A modern art section was also added.
In 1873 the statue of David by Michelangelo Buonarroti was transferred to the Gallery from Piazza della Signoria. A special area known as the Tribune was designed by Emilio De Fabris to accommodate it.
Between the end of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth the Gallery, which was now administratively separate from the Accademia di Belle Arti, was reorganised. This involved the transfer to other city museums of some of the ancient paintings, while the modern art section was moved to new premises in Palazzo Pitti.
At the same time the Galleria dell'Accademia was enhanced by the addition of other masterpieces by Michelangelo, such as the statue of St. Matthew , purchased by the Gallery in 1906, and in 1909 by the four large statues of the Slaves or Prisoners, originating from Grotta del Buontalenti in the Boboli Gardens.
In more recent years, an attempt has been made to restore the original link with the Accademia di Belle Arti, by displaying an extensive collection of plaster models by Lorenzo Bartolini and other nineteenth-century artists connected with the art school. As well as this, the Museum of Musical Instruments, has also been set up within the Gallery. This is a collection of the most important musical instruments belonging to the adjacent Conservatory named after Luigi Cherubini, which was also originally founded as part of the Accademia di Belle Arti.
Tuesday to Sunday, 8,15 – 18,50
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