The History of the Uffizi Gallery and Museum

Located in Florence, the UffiziGallery and Museum was built in 1581. The original project was commissioned by Cosimo I de Medici in 1560. Medici had the great architect Giorgio Vasari design the building and start construction. It was Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti who finished the project when Vasari died. The building was originally designed to be the offices of the Florentine magistrates.

The Uffizi Gallery became a display place for the collection of art the Medici family had in their possession. There were tapestries, paintings, and statues all created by talented artisans from Florence. Many of the pieces had been commissioned by the Medici family. As the gallery grew so did the attention. Since the 16th century there had been requests to view the collection. Anyone who asked could come see the magnificent pieces. It was in 1765 that the Uffizi Gallery was officially opened for public viewing. It is one of the oldest “modern” museums today.

The last heiress to the Medici family, Anna Maria Lodovica, was getting married and leaving. An agreement was made, the Patto di famiglia, which stated that the entire collection would never leave Florence. The collection has just kept growing.

Some of the art pieces date back to the 1300's: inside there are beautiful tapestries, statues, paintings, and sculptures. The Uffizi Gallery at present is only 64,000 sq. ft. so there is not enough room to exhibit everything in the collection. Some of the pieces are on loan to other galleries in the area. Many are still in storage. The displayed collection is always changing due to restorations and cleanings. There are plans to expand the present gallery to nearly triple the size. This will allow the entire collection of masterpieces to be viewed under one roof.

The Uffizi Gallery is open from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM every day except Mondays. There are three other days the gallery is closed. This is January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th. There are times when the gallery may get too crowded and it will close for a bit. There are only about 660 guests allowed in at a time. Heat can damage works of art by making them sweat. To keep the heat down the number of guests is monitored.

The price of entry into the Uffizi Gallery is 6.50€ or about $10 in U.S. currency. There is a discount for Europeans from ages 18 to 25. Seniors over 65 and those under 18 get in free. You can order the tickets on line or pick them up at the door. It is advisable to order on line and also make reservations. The fee to make a reservation is generally 3€. It is worth the wait. The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most visited museums so the crowds grow quickly. You can sometimes wait hours to get in. By having reservations you bypassed the waiting lines and can access the gallery. There is no visit to Florence which would be complete without seeing the Uffizi Gallery.