Starting November 15, 2023, small groups of 4 people with required advance bookings
Almost 50 years after its discovery in 1975, the small area called Michelangelo’s Secret Room will open to the public. The small area within the Medici Chapel museum complex with entrance from the New Sacristy, will open during an experimental time period from November 15, 2023 through March 30th, 2024.
⚠ 𝗨𝗣𝗗𝗔𝗧𝗘 𝟭𝟱/𝟭𝟭: 𝗔𝗟𝗟 𝗗𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗦 𝗔𝗡𝗗 𝗧𝗜𝗠𝗘𝗦 𝗢𝗟𝗗 𝗢𝗨𝗧 ⚠
The news of this opening had been shared during the presentation of the new exit for the Medici Chapels on September 26th by the Director General Massimo Osanna and created a lot of excitement considering the secret room has never been open to the public before on a regular basis. The room will be constantly monitored while the room is open to visitors to check that the conditions required for the conservation of the drawings is maintained. The number of visitors will be limited in order to maintain a balance in the amount of light and darkness required to conserve the drawings on the walls.
THE HISTORY OF MICHELANGELO’S SECRET ROOM
If you explore Florence, you will know that there was a period when the Medici were expelled from the city and the city formed a republic. In that short period of the Republic, Michelangelo helped the new city government build fortifications around the city against the Medici Pope’s military fight to retake the city. It is said that once the Republic fell after just 3 years (1527-1530), Michelangelo was in grave disfavor with Pope Clement VII Medici and had to hide from the Pope’s ire. The Prior of San Lorenzo gave him refuge in this small space while Michelangelo awaited to be forgiven, which he obtained after two months of hiding. During those two months, the great artist used the walls of the small room where he had haven to distract himself.
In November 1975, when the then director of the Medici Chapels Paola Dal Poggetto was already searching for a way to create a better exit for the museum, the team restoring the museum was charged with cleaning up the small corridor off the New Sacristy. The room, 10 meters by 3 meters wide and about 2.5 meters high, had been used as a storage for coal up to 1955 and then remained unused and actually forgotten, covered by a pile of wardrobes and other furnishings. While the rooms were being checked out, the head of the restoration team Sabino Giovannoni was able to discern a series of drawings of human figures under two layers of plaster made with charcoal and dried blood. The majority of the monumental figures were quickly attributed to the grand master by Poggetto herself. The drawings were studied and it was said that Michelangelo used the walls of this small room to sketch out some of the projects he had been working on, including the legs of the Duke of Nemours, Giuliano de’ Medici, within the New Sacristy. Other of the sketches have found references to other of his works.
HOW TO VISIT THE SECRET ROOM
Michelangelo’s Secret Room can be visited ONLY with advance bookings for specific times. There will be a limit of 4 people to a time slot, for a total of 100 people per week.
The hours will be:
Monday and Friday – 3pm, 4.30pm and 6pm
Wednesday and Saturday – 9am, 10.30am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 3pm, 4.30pm and 6pm
Thursday – 9am, 10.30am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 3pm
Maximum time for each group visit will be 15 minutes, accompanied by museum security personnel. Since it is necessary to go down a narrow stairway to reach the area, for security reasons the room will not be accessible to disabled visitors nor to children under 10 years of age.
The cost to visit Michelangelo’s secret room will be 20 euros for full price tickets (2 euros for reduced tickets, free for those under 18) in addition to the cost of entrance ticket to the Medici Chapels museum (10 euros full price, 3 euros reduced up until December 15) and the cost of booking (3 euros). So the total cost for full price will be 33 euros and 8 euros for reduced tickets.
The only way to book is by phone by calling the Firenze Musei booking number +39-055-294-883.
Photographs courtesy of the Medici Chapels Museum, credit Francesco Fantani