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Museo dell’Opera del Duomo: the three doors are back in place

Posted by GLflorence on January 8, 2020

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Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is a must-visit when in town. Some people think that the museum is less important than the Cathedral, which is a huge mistake: you need to take some time and visit it to understand the importance and the beauty of the monument. Now that the last door is back in place, even more! 

An overview of the museum 

The museum hosts 28 rooms organized in three floors: we’re talking about 6000 square metres of space and more than 1000 years of existence. This amazing museum was created to preserve all the works of art set in the exterior part of the Duomo Complex, and hosts today the three originals golden doors of the Baptistery entrance. The last one, Porta Sud, was placed back in Sala del Paradiso just 2 months ago, in the night between the 4th and the 5th of November 2019, after three years of restorations.

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Porta Sud, the most ancient door, and its long journey

Realized by Andrea Pisano between 1330 and 1336, Porta Sud left its original place after 680 years to be restored and has been put back in its place just a few months ago, next to Porta del Paradiso and Porta Nord by Lorenzo Ghiberti. This amazing work of art has suffered two difficult moments during its existence, the II World War, when the doors were moved to a safer location, and Florence flod in 1966, a catastrophic event that caused a lot of damages in the whole city. The restoration process was commissioned by Opera del Duomo to Settore Bronzi of Opificio delle Pietre Dure, and involved 14 restorers and various scientific experts and technicians. The structural damages were located thanks to thermographic researches. The restoration of Porta Sud is the end of a cycle which involved the three doors and began in 1978 with Porta del Paradiso. 

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Pisano, the artist who was “recommended” by Giotto

Andrea Pisano realized 28 tiles representing 20 episodes of Saint John the Baptist, the patron of Florence, and 8 emblematic characters. The reading order goes from the top to the bottom and from left to right. The left part of the door deals with some of the main life episodes of the Saint, while the right one with his martyrdom. Pisano, one of the most important artists of 300, was not the first choice for the realization of the doors, though. A 1322 document, indeed, mentions Tino di Camaino, who was commissioned the projects realizations. However, the artist left the work unfinished because he was called by King Robert D’Anjou in Naples. The project was then given to Andrea di Pontedera - Pisano - who probably had contacts with Giotto. His style is indeed visible in the structure of the characters and in the drapery of the clothes. The two worked together for the construction of the Bell Tower, which was finished by Pisano after Giotto’s death.  This is a connection too, that increase the probability of our theory. Whether Pisano was helped by Giotto or not is not important, though: this amazing artist created a masterpiece that has become famous all around the world and is now visible in the museum in all its splendor, a unique work of art that marked the history of the Opera del Duomo.  

What about visiting the Duomo complex without waiting in line? Join our tour and get a direct and dedicated access to the Cathedral! The ticket will let you visit the bell tower, the baptistery, Santa Reparata's Crypt, the Opera del Duomo and the Misericordia Museum too.

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