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History of the Accademia Gallery

The Galleria dell’Accademia was established in the XVIII century as a teaching facility for students of the adjacent Academy of Fine Arts, founded in 1784 by Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Lorraine. The Accademia is housed in the antic spaces of the Hospital of Saint Matthew and the Convent of Saint Niccolo’ of Cafaggio, where the halls were used to display antic artworks as didactic models for the students of the Academy of Fine Arts. The Galleria dell’Accademia was progressively enriched by paintings gathered from convents or monasteries which were suppressed by Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Lorraine at the end of the XVIII century and later on also by Napoleon in 1810.

The original statue of Michelangelo’d David was transferred from Piazza della Signoria into the Galleria in 1873. The architect Emilio de Fabris projected a special tribune with a large skylight to shelter David, eventually completed in 1882.

Ten years after the Gallery of Accademia was opened to the public, the museum changed various arrangements to showcase tapestries, paintings and sculptures, mainly when Michelangelo’s Prisoners were moved into the Accademia in 1909. Around the 1950s the Hall of the Colossus was opened together with the so-called Bizantine style Rooms featuring 13hundred panel paintings. In the 1980s the collection of plaster casts models by Lorenzo Bartolini was added to the Museum, housed inside the Nineteenth Century Room originally used as the women’s ward in the ancient Hospital of Saint Matthew, patron of the bankers.

An interesting wing of the Museum houses an outstanding collection of antic musical instruments, from the Cherubini Conservatory, witnessing the true passion of the Medici family for theater, ballet and music entertainment. The last nucleus of artworks features religious panel paintings by major artists active in or around Florence between the mid-13th and the late 16th centuries. The collection is exposed alongside the first floor and gathers restored colorful gold-backed altarpieces and splendid late-Gothic polyptychs. The latest setting of the museum involved the Hall of the Colossus in December 2013 to allow a larger and more enjoyable number of artworks from the XV and early XVI century.