"To know the Duomo is to know the city". The Opera del Duomo Museum seen through the eyes of an American student
Tucked in the shadow of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, better known to most people as simply the Duomo, lies the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. In this small but fascinating museum lies the originals of the beautiful art located inside and out of the buildings that make up the Duomo complex , along with exhibits highlighting its history and important moments. The museum is recently renovated and perfectly juxtaposes the preserved artifacts from the early history of the Duomo with a highly engaging path through the modern museum.
The museum itself, though, only gives you part of the story. Each piece in the museum has a rich backstory, not the least of which is the way it was produced and the reason it was commissioned. For the full story, you must go to the third floor- the educational department of the museum. There, they offer a wide array of classes and lectures giving you the story behind the Duomo itself , as well as the many other pieces and artwork associated with it.
I had the pleasure of sitting in on many of these, and I was truly astounded by what I found. I attended a class that spanned the entire construction process of Brunelleschi’s Dome, as well as a lecture focused solely on the limestone used in the production of the concrete used in said construction. Along with the diversity of subjects, the audiences vary greatly as well. I especially loved sitting in on the classes of elementary students and observing them learn about the physics behind the construction of the dome. I personally never learned anything even close to that and I highly doubt that many other American students did either . The classes can be geared to all ages, however, and I experienced a full range in my time spent there.
It was such an incredible experience getting to sit in on the talks and learn from the members of the department. As an American student studying in Florence, my goal for the semester was to experience as many things and learn about as many things as I possibly could. My time spent at the Didattica, Italian for educational department, allowed me to add so much to these goals. For me, it was one of my highlights of my time in Florence. I loved getting to know so much about the Duomo and its works, as well as the other buildings in the complex. Climbing to the top of the campanile-bell tower- and the famous Duomo would be at the top of my must do list for Florence. The view is absolutely breathtaking- as is the climb up - but it is so worth it.
The Museo truly encompasses so much within its unassuming walls. The Duomo is so central to the city of Florence, meaning that to know the Duomo is to know the city . The best way to learn is always from the experts, and no one knows more about the buildings and their works than the wonderful people who work in the museum and the educational department. I can’t stopping in or booking a lecture enough.
By Maria Nasser, student at Syracuse University in Florence.