The Bardini Gallery: a new museum in Florence


  • Bardini Museum

In 1922, the Florence City Council came into possession of a conspicuous inheritance, Stefano Bardini (1854-1922) the most authoritative Italian antiquarian, after years of intense business activity, decided to transform his collection into a museum and to donate it to the Municipality of Florence.

Bardini, trained as a painter, became famous as a restorer and put together a collection of art work with his love and passion for the Renaissance. Thanks to him, the taste for Renaissance architectural decorations, for stucco sculptures and terracotta sculptures was rediscovered.

The Palazzo where the Museum is housed was bought and renovated by Bardini himself in 1881 and used as an exclusive showroom.

Once the church and convent of San Gregorio Della Pace the antiquarian Bardini transformed the old building into a charming neo-Renaissance Palazzo with some changes to the structure and the addition of some authentic architectural elements such as portals and stairs.

He created a suitable environnement for hosting the leading museum curators and also for housing the laboratories where the works of art were restored, ready to be sold.

The antiquarian helped to spread the legend of the Italian Renaissance round the world, he showed particular interest not only in the great masterpieces but also in the applied arts, which still constitute one of the most appealing parts of the collections.

Bardini’s customers included the most prestigious collectors and some of the ideas he used for the museum layout were widely imitated. The splendid blue color of the interior was replicated by the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris and by Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston.

Among the numerous masterpieces of painting and sculpture there are the works of Nicola Pisano, Tino da Camaino, Pollaiolo and Donatello beside other important works belonging to the City Council such as the famous "Porcellino" (a bronze Wild Boar) by Pietro Tacca.