Art, history, and fashion recently collided in Florence as designer Gareth Pugh presented a video inside Orsanmichele:
Orsanmichele : Photos & Video• Gareth Pugh at Orsanmichele
• Historic photographs of Orsanmichele
• New Photo of Orsanmichele
• New Windows on Orsanmichele
• Orsanmichele Video
• Orsanmichele, Top Floor Video
• Photo from inside the museum of Orsanmichele
• Smuggled photos of Orsanmichele
• Some work on Orsanmichele today
• Tabernacle of St. John Restoration Complete
• Views of Orsanmichele
You don't know where and how the money comes together for projects like this - the authority of the museum can not even afford to keep it open (that is why it is only open on Mondays by a volunteer staff) - but somehow they are replacing all the glass in the windows. This is great news - the views are excellent and the old glass is in bad shape. I am still amazed however that more isn't done ahead of time to protect the tabernacles and the sculptures when work is performed on the building.
Here is the official video of "Orsanmichele Chiesa e Museo" presented by Antonio Godoli. It is in Italian, but even if you don't understand it the video is worth watching for some of the interior shots of the museum and sculptures.
This is the top (third American floor) floor of the museum of Orsanmichele. In Italian this is the piano secondo. The space is huge, the ceiling is soaring, and the views of Florence and the hills are amazing. Make sure to climb the stairs up here if you get the chance to visit the museum, which is now open on Mondays. Admission is free. This is a perfect spot to sit and meditate for a moment, for a quiet conversation, and to catch some views of Florence you won't find anywhere else.
Here is another photo sent in by a user. This is the museum main floor, with all the original sculptures (the primo piano). The photo is take from the staircase leading to the second floor (third American floor) which is mostly empty but has some great views of Florence.
You will also notice that the statue of St. George is missing from the presentation - this is a question I have been trying to get answered for years. Supposedly the original sculpture is in the Bargello, but there was a copy here at one point, and it has been gone for a while.
Also a note on getting in - the museum is still open on Mondays and is free, but lately instead of entering across the street from the church, you enter from the church and get to go up a spiral staircase in the northwest corner pillar. It is actually pretty cool!
Pretty alarming to see this guy working from a cherry picker today with a huge drill almost right on top of the tabernacle. It looked like he was drilling a hole for some wire to go through. He was all alone though, and there didn't seem to be any kind of forethought to protecting the tabernacle or sculpture in case of an accident.
He also was chipping away at the building to the left of where he was drilling. I am not sure what the work is related to -
I returned to Florence to find the restoration work on the Gothic tabernacle (Albizzo di Piero, 1414) housing Ghiberti's St. John finished. It is a job very well done - the missing piece of stone under the base of the statue has been replaced, and the carvings of the tabernacle have been beautifully cleaned. The work on the small eagle emblems is especially fine. There is always a battle to leave things "as is" in restoration, and just clean, without ever adding anything new - but surely these eagles were very brightly painted at one time. The restoration work gives a glimpse to the trained eye of what must have been.
There is also a garland hanging under the tabernacle now, in celebration I suppose, and a new plaque has been put in place crediting the Rotary Club of Florence for the work.
It is important to remember that beside the tabernacle of St. George, all of these tabernacles are the originals. It is a testament to the craftsmanship and materials of the various times (the original construction dates span hundreds of years!) that they still survive the centuries. Pretty amazing.
The first photo below is the "before" picture: