The narrow courtyard between the Uffizi's two wings creates the effect of a short, idealized street; view toward the Palazzo Vecchio
View of hallway.[1]
The narrow courtyard, showing view toward the Arno River
Ceiling frescos in the main corridor

The Uffizi Gallery (Italian: Galleria degli Uffizi, Italian pronunciation: [ˌɡalleˈria deʎʎi ufˈfittsi]) (pronounced Uffitsi), is a museum in Florence, Italy. It is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world.



Building of the palace was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de' Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates — hence the name "uffizi" ("offices"). Construction was continued to Vasari's design by Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti and ended in 1581. The cortile (internal courtyard) is so long and narrow, and open to the Arno River at its far end through a Doric screen that articulates the space without blocking it, that architectural historians[2] treat it as the first regularized streetscape of Europe. Vasari, a painter as well as architect, emphasized the perspective length by the matching facades' continuous roof cornices, and unbroken cornices between storeys and the three continuous steps on which the palace-fronts stand. The niches in the piers that alternate with columns were filled with sculptures of famous artists in the 19th century.

The Palazzo degli Uffizi brought together under one roof the administrative offices, the Tribunal and the state archive (Archivio di Stato). The project that was planned by Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany to arrange that prime works of art in the Medici collections on the piano nobile was effected by Francis I of Tuscany, who commissioned from Buontalenti the famous Tribuna degli Uffizi that united a selection of the outstanding masterpieces in the collection in an ensemble that was a star attraction of the Grand Tour.

Over the years, further parts of the palace evolved into a display place for many of the paintings and sculpture collected by the Medici family or commissioned by them. According to Vasari, who was not only the architect of the Uffizi but also the author of Lives of the Artists, published in 1550 and 1568, artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo gathered at the Uffizi "for beauty, for work and for recreation."[3]

After the house of Medici was extinguished, the art treasures remained in Florence by terms of the famous Patto di famiglia negotiated by Anna Maria Luisa, the last Medici heiress; it formed one of the first modern museums. The gallery had been open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century, and in 1765 it was officially opened to the public.

Because of its huge collection, some of its works have in the past been transferred to other museums in Florence — for example, some famous statues, to the Bargello. A project is currently underway to expand the museum's exhibition space by 2006 from some 6,000 metres² (64,000 ft²) to almost 13,000 metres² (139,000 ft²), allowing public viewing of many artworks that have usually been in storage.

In 1993, a car bomb exploded in Via dei Georgofili and damaged parts of the palace, killing five people. The most severe damage was to the Niobe room, the classical sculptures and neoclassical interior of which have been restored, although its frescoes were damaged beyond repair. The identity of the bomber or bombers are unknown, although it was almost certainly attributable to the Sicilian Mafia who were engaged in a period of terrorism at that time.

Today, the Uffizi is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Florence. In high season (particularly in July), waiting times can be up to five hours. Visitors who reserve a ticket in advance have a substantially shorter wait.

In early August 2007, Florence was caught with a large rainstorm, and the Gallery was partially flooded, with water leaking through the ceiling, and the visitors had to be evacuated. There was a much more significant flood in 1966 which damaged most of the art collections in Florence severely, including the Uffizi.

Popular culture

  • The museum is mentioned in chapter XII of Henry James's 1875 novel Roderick Hudson. It is said that, 'There are very fine antiques in the Uffizi.'
  • The museum is mentioned in Book 1, chapter 24 of Henry James's novel "Portrait of a Lady." "You'd have liked a few things from the Uffizi and the Pitti--that what you'd have liked," said Madame Merle.
  • In the E.M. Forster novel A Room with a View, Lucy Honeychurch is carried to "some steps in the Uffizi Arcade" by George Emerson, when she faints after witnessing a murder in the Piazza della Signoria.
  • The Thomas Pynchon novel V. contains a chapter centered around an attempted robbery of The Birth of Venus from the museum.
  • In the spy-parody television show "Archer," Mallory reminds her son, Sterling Archer, about an unfortunate "Uffizi fiasco," which shows the facade of the famed museum in flames.
  • A racetrack of the same name is featured in the game Project Gotham Racing 2 for Xbox.
  • Mentioned in the Phish song "You Enjoy Myself".


Here is a selection from the collection of paintings:

The collection also contains some ancient sculptures, such as the Arrotino and the Two Wrestlers.

See also

  • Collections of the Uffizi


  1. ^ The blankness of the walls was originally covered with tapestries.
  2. ^ Siegfried Giedion, Space, Time and Architecture (1941) 1962 fig.17.
  3. ^ Fossi, Gloria. The Uffizi. (Giuniti, 1999), p. 8.

External links

Coordinates: 43°46′07″N 11°15′19″E / 43.768639°N 11.255214°E / 43.768639; 11.255214

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