Probably nobody would go to the Accademia if it weren’t for the David– which is a shame because they actually do have a nice little collection of other late Medieval/Renaissance artworks, along with a musical instruments collection, which is my own personal cup of tea. But because it has the David, the Accademia is (with the Uffizi) the hardest museum ticket in town. Lines are long and viewing conditions are terrible. So let’s discuss: the Accademia is terrible? Wonderful? or both?
It pretty much goes without saying that the David is AMAZING, so that’s a vote for wonderful. It’s truly astonishing because of its monumentality, the virtuosity of the carving, as well as the idealism of the form. Though not necessarily the most interesting of Michelangelo’s sculptures (over his career or even in Florence), it’s so beautiful it is genuinely worth seeing. So, wonderful:
AND in the hallway leading up to the David there are Michelangelo’s Prisoners or Slaves– a pack of monumental figures that were originally intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II, but because Michelangelo had about zero follow-through, none of them are complete. They’re the less finished brothers to the Slaves in the Louvre and much like with the Rondanini Pietà you get to see all of the sculptor’s fun process and imagine the forms emerging from the blocks and crap like that. So, wonderful.
But you know what’s not wonderful? The insane cacophony in the David gallery. It is painfully loud. Between the sounds of excited visitors, the never-ending “No Photo” announcements, and the vast echo-y space it’s extremely difficult to actually enjoy the viewing of anything there. And despite the long lines and waits and noise, most viewers only stop in-front of the David for a few minutes then head out… which… seems like a waste of time to me. So, terrible. Because the viewing conditions are so lousy, lousy, lousy, I usually point visitors to some of Michelangelo’s other sculptures around town to see. Because there are lots and you won’t have to wait in line to see them and the gallery won’t give you a headache. No line and no headache is my preferred way to see Michelangelo sculptures. How about you?