Florence’s Accademia: Terrible? Wonderful? Both?

good ol'David (image via wikipedia)
good ol’David (image via wikipedia)

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?

the line in front of the Accademia (and actually this isn't that bad) image via musement.com)
the line in front of the Accademia (and actually this isn’t that bad) image via musement.com)

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:

Don't scowl David, I'm saying nice things about you (image via wikipedia)
Don’t scowl David, I’m saying nice things about you (image via wikipedia)

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.

trapped! fun! (image via walkaboutflorence.com)
trapped! fun! (image via walkaboutflorence.com)

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?



10 thoughts on “Florence’s Accademia: Terrible? Wonderful? Both?

  1. Agreed, it’s a pretty loud and small space! After visiting I thought it would be interesting if they had all three David sculptures in one room or at least in the same gallery i.e. Donatello’s, Verrocchio’s (both at the Bargello) and Michelangelo’s. I don’t know, in class we always had to compare the works and in a ~dream world~ it’d be cool if they were easily accessible to compare in person!

  2. I loved being able to go to see the David even with all the people and noise, but I think my favorite were Michelangelo’s Prisoners leading up to the statue. That being said, my favorite places in Florence were stopping in the churches to see the artwork.

    1. Yes, I tend to prefer in-situ artworks as well… and to a certain extent the David copy in front of the Palazzo Vecchio serves that purpose. I’m glad you like the Prisoners– lots of people hardly even notice them!

  3. It’s annoying that some people visit famous things because they feel obligated if they’re in town. Better to spend time visiting where you really want to go. The unfinished works sound really interesting to me. I like artistic process. 😀

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