Some of the sketches in the secret room, Source: Musei del Bargello

How you can visit Michelangelo’s “secret chamber”

How you can visit Michelangelo’s “secret chamber”

For the first time ever, the public will gain access to the rough mural drawings by the Renaissance artist

The cultural world is abuzz after news came out that the Museum of the Medici Chapels, in Florence, plans to allow public access to the so-called Michelangelo secret room, which contains mural charcoal drawings by the iconic artist. Visitations will be available from 15 November.

Up until now, the small chamber, located under the New Sacristy of the museum chapel was closed off to the general public, save for art researchers and restoration experts. It was only re-discovered by chance in 1975, having been forgotten for two decades, and before that it was used as a coal storage.

The rough sketches were revealed only after two layers of plaster were removed from the walls. They show various crude outlines of human figures and faces, which show the way the artist envisioned the human form in his mind and how he exercised in drawing it.

Limited number of visitors

If you’re fan of Renaissance art, it’s understandable that you might already be itching to go and indeed you might need to hurry up. There are a few things to consider if you’re planning a visit to the secret room in Florence.

The plan of the museum is to try the public access on an experimental basis in order to see whether this will affect the condition of the drawings. The results will be re-evaluated six months later in order to determine whether to continue allowing visitors to the site.

The room will be accessible by reservation to a maximum of four people per guided group, up to a limit of 100 people per week.

It will be open on Mondays (3pm, 4.30pm and 6pm), Wednesdays (9am, 10.30am, midday, 1.30pm, 3pm, 4.30pm and 6pm), Thursdays (9am, 10.30am, midday, 1.30pm and 3pm), Fridays (3pm, 4.30pm and 6pm), and Saturdays (9am, 10.30am, midday, 1.30pm, 3pm, 4.30pm and 6pm). Visitors can spend a maximum of 15 minutes inside. Flash photography will not be permitted.

The price of the ticket will be another way to limit the crowds. Visitors over 18 will have to fork out 20 euros, in addition to a reservation fee of 3 euros plus the price for the Museum of the Medici Chapels ticket (10 euros regular, 3 euro reduced-price until 15 December).

Given that reservation is only possible through the museum’s website, it’s probably no surprise that at the time of writing this article, the huge interest must have caused the website to crash.

The story of the drawings

According to experts, the style is unmistakably that of the author of the Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes. However, it’s just as interesting to know how Michelangelo ended up practicing his talent on the walls of the room measuring ten metres long, three metres wide, and two and a half metres high at the top of the vault.

Apparently, the artist was most likely hiding there from Pope Clement VII, who was angered at his support for the Florentine Republic in the period 1527-1530. Michelangelo must have spent two months hiding there with mural drawing being his way to keep himself busy and in good spirits.



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