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How to visit Michelangelo's Secret Room in Florence

Hidden chamber to stay open to public until July.

Michelangelo's "Secret Room", a tiny chamber with sketch-filled walls at the Bargello Museum in Florence, is to remain open to the public until July.

The cramped space at the Medici Chapels complex opened to the public on a trial basis last November, almost 50 years after it was discovered hidden behind a trap door.

The visits were scheduled to finish in March however, following approval by heritage experts, it has been decided to extend the initiative from the start of April until the end of June.

However within three days of going on sale, tickets for the visits were completely booked up for the three months, leading authorities to add an extra month.

Tickets for July will become available on 25 January but are likely to be snapped up quickly.

Visits will follow the same procedure as before: on a limited basis and strictly by reservation.

The limited access is to protect the fragile nature of the charcoal and chalk wall drawings, created by the Italian High Renaissance master in 1530.

Visits to the room, which can be accessed via the New Sacristy, will be limited to four people at a time, for a maximum stay of 15 minutes.

Standard tickets cost €20 in addition to a compulsory €3 reservation fee plus the €10 price for the museum ticket, adding up to €33 per person.

The story behind Michelangelo's Secret Room

During the summer of 1530 Michelangelo Buonarotti went "off-radar" for about three months, with no official trace of the artist's whereabouts on record.

He was in fact holed up in a secret chamber, below the Medici Chapels in the Basilica of S. Lorenzo, in hiding from the Medici on their return from exile.

Michelangelo, then aged 55, feared reprisals after he had betrayed his patrons by siding with the revolt that had overthrown them.

However the artist did not waste his time while hiding out in the tiny windowless room, which measures just 10 metres long by three metres wide and was accessed via a trap-door.

He worked feverishly on studies for projects he was working on at the time, including a revision of David and some images from the Sistine Chapel.

He also covered the walls of his cramped hide-out with sketches in charcoal and chalk, including a possible self-portrait.

Details from Michelangelo's Secret Room. Photos Musei Italiani.

 

When Michelangelo eventually resurfaced, after being forgiven by the Medici, he was permitted to resume work on the family’s monuments in the same chapel below which he had spent his summer in hiding.

Until 1975 nobody knew of the existence of Michelangelo's Secret Room.

When the walls of the hidden chamber were stripped, curators made a sensational discovery: sketches made by Michelangelo more than four centuries earlier.

Until last November, only art experts and the occasional lucky guest were granted access to the tiny cell, and the room had never been opened to the public.

Michelangelo died in Rome, at the grand old age of 88, in 1564.

He is buried at the Basilica di S. Croce, fulfilling the master's final request to be laid to rest in his beloved Florence.

For ticket details and visiting information see the Musei dei Bargello website.

Article originally published on 18 January, updated on 24 January.

General Info

Address Via del Proconsolo, 4, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

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How to visit Michelangelo's Secret Room in Florence

Via del Proconsolo, 4, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

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