San Miniato & More at the Salone del Restauro

San Miniato Chapel of the Crucifix, photo by Antonio Quattrone

May 16 – 18.  SALONE DELL’ARTE E DEL RESTAURO.  Villa Vittoria, Palazzo dei Congressi, Piazza Adua, 1.  Hours: 9:30 am to 6 pm.  Admission: €10.

The sixth annual International Fair of Art and Restoration in Florence brings together art conservation professionals, representatives from companies, museums and training institutions all dedicated to protecting and raising awareness of art treasures.  During the course of the three-day event, people in the restoration field can meet, network and learn about new techniques and technologies in conservation and preservation.  Open to the public, visitors also have the opportunity to learn about this very special, specialized world.

A congress center in “The City of Art” will host 168 delegates from 30 countries and exhibitors from more than 24 countries in the effort to raise awareness of the need and ongoing efforts to protect and preserve cultural and artistic heritage.

Florence Heri-Tech, the main event, presents the future of heritage science and technologies.  Industry experts and enthusiasts from all over the globe will participate with discussions and introductions of new techniques and applied science in the field of art restoration.

This year’s program includes presentations on such intriguing developments as the use of robotic hi tech in exploring underwater archaeology and digital restoration used in Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” and currently in Michelangelo’s unfinished “Battle of Cascina.”

In anticipation of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death next year, a special focus will be on the work of the scientist, sculptor, painter, architect and engineer known as the ‘universal man.’  Renowned art historians and researchers will discuss Da Vinci’s landscape designs and code on the flight of birds on Wednesday, May 16 (Auditorium. 10:30 am to 5 pm).

Also of interest could be the talk on “The Future of Museums and Museology: New Perspectives” on Wednesday, May 16 (Sala Verde, 2 to 6:30 pm).

The Friends of Florence, a non-profit organization supported by art lovers around the world, plans a full day of events on Friday, May 18.  Presentations of seven restorations of particular significance to the city of Florence will be open to the public.  Michelangelo’s “River God” sculpture, recently restored and returned to the Casa Buonarroti Museum and Pontormo’s “Deposition from the Cross,” restored last year and on view in living color in the church of Santa Felicita, are two featured presentations of the day.  The recipient of the Friends of Florence award will be announced: a prize of €20,000 will fund the restoration of a piece of art in Florence in order to make it accessible to the public (Sala Edwards, Friday, May 18, 9:30 am to 6 pm).

The Friends’ of Florence latest restoration was unveiled on April 27 in the Basilica of San Miniato in honor of the church’s 1000th anniversary of its founding. The tabernacle, also called the Chapel of the Crucifixion, was commissioned by Piero de’ Medici in 1447 and created by artists Michelozzo, Luca della Robbia and Maso di Bartolommeo.

The tabernacle stands at the far end of the nave, marking   the boundary of the area originally reserved only for monks and creating, in the words of Father Bernardo, prior of San Miniato, a “door of light into the mystery of the church.”  It is an Early Renaissance masterpiece in marble and glazed terracotta, topped by two eagles in gilded and painted bronze.  Formerly housing the miraculous crucifix of Saint Giovanni Gualberto, thus giving the Chapel its name, on its main wall the 14th century panel paintings by Agnolo Gaddi depict the story of the Crucifixion.  A door was originally cut into the panels, inside of which the crucifix was kept.

Over the centuries the tabernacle underwent many changes, including its total dismantlement during World War II to protect it from bombing. The complex restoration project involved a team of specialists in bronze, glazed terracotta, marble, and painting conservation.  A detailed discussion of the project with a film on the restoration will be presented at the Salone del Restauro on the afternoon of May 18.  (rita kungel & elizabeth wicks)

For further info and the schedule, see  www.salonerestaurofirenze.com.