This building was chosen to be the workshop of the Duomo in the 15th century and in its courtyard Michelangelo sculpted his David. Since 1891 it has housed works removed from the cathedral and it’s collection includes outdoor sculpture. The original panels from the “Gates of Paradise” are on display here after restoration. (The gates I photographed on the Baptistry are copies substituted after the originals had had 500 years of weathering.)
A centerpiece sculpture is this Pieta by Michelangelo c. 1550. It is thought that it was intended for his own tomb and that the hooded figure is a self-portrait. Damage on the left leg and arm is thought to have been inflicted by him in frustration with his failing skills.
My favorite pieces were from the cantoria by Luca della Robbia from 1431-38. He was only 30 at the time and it was his masterpiece. After this, he confined himself to the terra cotta he is more famous for. The sculptures are a celebration of music, song and dance performed by children. The cantoria once was in the Duomo near the organ and it held singers.
For conservation reasons the entire sculptural decoration of the campanile by Giotto is inside the museum. Sixteen statues from the third level and the lozenge shaped panels on the first and second levels. This marble on blue majolica glistened.
This museum was renovated in 1999 and includes a wonderful display of drawings and models of suggestions for the facade. Also, pullies, tools, brick forms, and scaffolding from the building of Brunelleschi’s dome and Brunelleschi’s death mask.
Up on the third floor a state of the art restoration laboratory.