Florence’s Post-Lockdown Museum Re-openings
Having surpassed the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, museums and libraries—but not all—will be reopening to the public starting on May 18, after having been closed for over two months due to the national March 9 Dcpm decree. Before going ahead, institutions in Florence are waiting to receive the finalized list of safety protocols from the Cultural Heritage Ministry, in turn compiled by a committee of doctors and scientists. Below is the schedule of many local cultural institutions that will slowly become accessible during the COVID 19 post-lockdown transition period.
Florence’s state-run museums are close to a return to action, such as the Boboli Gardens, which reopened on Thursday, May 21. Visitors wearing masks are now welcome to walk about the monumental green space daily from 8:45 am to 6:15 pm, except for the first and last Monday of the month when it is closed. Each person will also have their temperature measured at the entrance; if found to be over 37.5° C/99.5° Fahrenheit he or she will be turned away. Other safety protocols must be observed: 1.8 meter (6 ft.) social distancing, no gatherings, while groups accompanied by a guide cannot exceed a maximum of 10 people. Florence’s Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico) will reopen on May 23; its beautiful plants and flowers can be seen on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 6:30 pm. A visit (€3) must be reserved by phone (055/2756444 from 9 am to 1 pm) or by sending an email to email@example.com.
The Pitti Palace complex (Palatine Gallery plus the Modern Art Gallery, the Museum of Costume and Fashion, and the Treasury of the Grand Dukes) will begin readmitting visitors on Thursday, May 28. The Uffizi Gallery will follow on Wednesday, June 3. As for the reopening of the Bargello Museums (comprising the Bargello National Sculpture Museum, the Medici Chapels, the Orsanmichele plus the Palazzo Davanzati and Martelli Historical Homes), a date has still not been decided.
Guests will be finally allowed to admire the iconic David and Slave sculptures by Michelangelo along with medieval artworks at the Accademia Gallery starting June 2. In view of the health crisis, a new and badly needed air conditioning system has yet to be installed; guests have been known to faint or feel ill in the Accademia during the torrid summer heat thanks to inadequate ventilation.
THE DUOMO MUSEUMS (see story here).
OTHER MUSEUMS & LIBRARIES
The Tomas Saraceno show “Aria” (Air) at Palazzo Strozzi can be toured starting June 1; the exhibition, originally set to close in July, has been extended through November. A display of the works of Jeff Koons, which were to be hosted by Palazzo Strozzi beginning in the fall, has been postponed.
As for Florence’s city-run museums, Florence’s City Councilman for Culture, Tommaso Sacchi, confirmed these institutions will remain temporarily closed. This is because of lack of any income due to forced closure by the virus crisis. In order to reopen, funds would be needed to pay the salaries of all staff, who are currently receiving unemployment benefits, as well as other expenses.
Sacchi also said that the lack of tourists in Florence is hugely restricting the number of people who would be able to visit the museums and theatres in any case, proving any reopening at this moment in time to be unsustainable. All this means that some of Florence’s most prestigious museums, such as the Palazzo Medici Riccardi (which hosts the iconic Benozzo Gozzoli fresco, “The Journey of the Magi” as well as the Kurt Cobain photography exhibition), and the Palazzo Vecchio Museum, will remain closed until June at the earliest. This also applies to Santa Maria Novella, the Brancacci Chapel, the Novecento Museum of 20th and 21st Century Art, Forte Belvedere and others.
A private landmark, the Certosa di Galluzzo complex, containing a monastery, a church, cloisters, courtyards and a gift shop will be accessible on weekends beginning Saturday, May 23. Hours are 3 – 6 pm Saturday and Sunday.
While Florence’s municipal libraries will also stay closed, City Council is currently considering the possibility of opening at least one per district in order to ensure that people will still be able to loan and return books. Florence’s state-run National Library finally reopened after 70 days of closure on May 18, although the public will be required to reserve entry and a limited number of people will be allowed inside at one time. Returned books will also be “quarantined” for 10 days after use. (alfie king/additional reporting by rosanna cirigliano)