Michelangelo’s Secret Room opens to the public
Vita gazette – In Florence, almost 50 years after its discovery, on November 15th, the “Michelangelo’s secret room” will be accessible to the public; it is a small room containing a series of charcoal drawings attributed to Buonarroti (who hid here in 1530), a which can be accessed from the New Sacristy, inside the Museum of the Medici Chapels.
The small room, located under the New Sacristy, would have been a refuge for Buonarroti to defend himself from the wrath of Clement VII. In the small room, the artist left numerous sketches of figures visible for the first time.
From November 15th, the so-called secret room of Michelangelo will be open to the public, located in the complex of the Museum of the Medici Chapels in Florence, where studies and drawings attributed to the famous Renaissance painter and sculptor are visible. The room had been forgotten for years and had just been visited now: it is thought that Michelangelo Buonarroti had lived there secretly for a few months in 1530 and had used it to sketch some of his works on the walls.
The room is 10 meters long and 3 meters wide, with a vault with a maximum height of 2 and a half meters. It is accessed from the New Sacristy of the museum, which is part of the Bargello Museums group. It was discovered in 1975 when the then-director of the Medici Chapels, Paolo Dal Poggetto, commissioned the cleaning of an area below the apse.
Until the 1950s, the small room had been used as a charcoal store but remained unused, hidden behind a trap door in a room where various pieces of furniture had been piled up. The wall drawings, of different sizes and sometimes overlapping, emerged during the cleaning work under two layers of plaster.
On the walls of the room, there are studies of whole figures, but also more or less summary sketches of anatomical parts, profiles of faces and human figures in various poses; they were made with charcoal and sanguine, a red ocher used to make pastels for drawing, widely used since the Renaissance. After analysis and research, which art historians are still studying, most have been attributed to Michelangelo.
Dal Poggetto hypothesised that Michelangelo had hidden in the room between the end of June and the end of October 1530 to escape possible persecution by Pope Clement VII, belonging to the Florentine Medici family. In the short period when the Medici were expelled from Florence (from 1527 to 1530), Michelangelo followed the construction of the city’s fortifications on behalf of the republican government. According to Dal Poggetto’s reconstructions, after being forgiven by the Medici family, Michelangelo became free and resumed working in Florence before moving to Rome in 1534.
Again, according to Dal Poggetto’s reconstructions, the sketches were made during Michelangelo’s period of “self-imprisonment”. In particular, Michelangelo would have used the walls of the room for the study of some of his paintings and sculptures or for drawings inspired by pre-existing works of art, such as that of the head of the Laocoön, which is part of the famous sculptural group preserved in the Vatican Museums.
The room will be open for visits from November 15th to March 30th 2024, by reservation only. Due to the narrow environment and for the protection of the works, groups of up to four people at a time will be able to access it, accompanied by museum staff, for up to 100 people per week. You can stay in the room for a maximum of 15 minutes.
The entrance ticket will cost 23 euros per person (including the 3 euros required reservation), to be added to the price of the ordinary access ticket to the Medici Chapels Museum (10 euros).