The Museo Nazionale del Bargello is a centuries-old prison and fortified barracks turned art museum in Florence, Italy. It was constructed in 1255, making it one of the oldest constructs in the entire city. The palatial structure was originally built to house the chief magistrate of Florence, but in the 1500s the Medici family replaced the magistrate (and largely the function of the city council) with a bargello, the equivalent of a police chief. The building that now houses the Bargello Museum served as a jail and a place for executions. The Museo Nazionale del Bargello did not open its doors until 1865, just six years after ceasing its operation as the headquarters for the police in Florence. Now its is one of the most popular museums in the city.
The Bargello Museum hours are 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Sunday. The Bargello Museum hours are barely sufficient to allow true art enthusiasts to get their fill of these world-renowned sculptures. Be sure to check specific hours for the dates you will be visiting, as the museum closes on certain holidays and on the first and third Sunday of every month. It is located in the center of Florence in the Duomo District within close proximity of many other attractions and a variety of restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Only in a city like Florence could a relatively small museum, especially as compared to the Accademia Gallery and the Uffizi Gallery, contain such an impressive collection of art, as does the Bargello Museum. It has the honorable designation of being the museum that contains the greatest number of Renaissance sculptures in the city, including seminal works by the likes of Donatello, Michelangelo, and Filippo Brunelleschi. Throughout the museum you will not only find sculptures and paintings, but also other mediums such as bronze statuary, Venetian glass, Renaissance jewelry, ivory, and medals from the personal Medici family collection. These items are all a treat to see, but the real attractions at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello are those that were done by the great masters of the Italian Renaissance.
The first floor of the museum is dedicated to the great Tuscan artists of the sixteenth century. Four of Michelangelo’s sculptures are displayed here. They include his Bacchus, the famous relief of Pitti Tondo (Madonna with Child), and Brutus and David-Apollo. Other masterworks in the museum include the bronze sculpture of David by the fourteenth-century artist, Donatello. The Bargello Museum also has on display Donatello’s marble sculpture of a younger David. These statues are particularly loved in Florence as the symbol of David slaying Goliath has always been a rallying cry for Florentine independence.
This museum is an attraction you should strongly consider putting on your list of places to see while visiting Florence. The statuary of Donatello and Michelangelo certainly justifies the very modest fee to enter the museum on their own. In terms of how to sync up your time with the Bargello Museum hours, it is advisable to arrive as early as possible to avoid long lines and permit yourself time to see all of the displays. Advanced reservations only cost a few extra Euros and will allow you to cut through the line to get in.