The 2023 ‘European Museum Night’: See the Greats for Less


The Bargello National Sculpture Museum

Museums in and around Florence will be opening their doors on Saturday, May 13, for evening viewings and capitalising on the evocative power of night. Visitors and Florentines, maybe after a meal or a glass of wine, will get the chance to enjoy the great masterpieces for only €1 from 7 pm onwards. Times and reservation requirements vary and can be verified online.

This is the most recent edition of the ‘European Museum Night,’ is a yearly event that happens across the continent. It was first conceived 17 years ago by the French Ministry of Culture, (Nuit des Musées’), in a bid to promote interest in places of culture and bring people closer together through art. Later spreading across Europe, the date stuck and it is has since garnered support from UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Council of Museums.

In Florence, museums participating in the initiative include the Uffizi Gallery (7 – 10 pm), the Bargello Museum (7 – 10 pm), the Medici Chapels (7 – 10.50 pm) and the Accademia Gallery (7 – 10pm). The National Museum of Archaeology will also be taking part (7 – 10 pm), and offering guided tours (7 – 8.30 pm), which will touch on the reconstruction of Etruscan tombs on its grounds.

Outside of Florence, museums involved include the Gonfienti Archaeological Museum in Campi Bisenzio (6 – 11 pm); in Siena, the Palazzo Pretorio in Prato (9 pm- 12 midnight) and the National Art Gallery of Siena (9 – 11 pm). In Fiesole, the Civic Archaeological Museum and the Bandini Museum will be welcoming visitors from 7 until 11 pm and offering guided tours, free of charge. An Etruscan settlement dating back to the 4th century, the town of Fiesole (Faesulae) suffered at the hands of the Gauls, Romans and Goths and regrettably lost much of its Etruscan architecture to these defeats; the only shadows of its ancient identity that remain are fragments of the old city walls and two tombs on Via Bargellino. But its archaeological museum supplements the little knowledge we have with a striking collection of Etruscan artefacts, including votive bronzes, coins, cinerary urns, vases and statues, to name a few.

This short-lived, yearly event is an opportunity to visit one (or more) of Florence’s museums and promises to be a memorable, atmospheric but most of all, gloriously un-costly idea for this weekend.  (Sophie Holloway)