Both galleries were founded together with art schools and are still located in their original buildings. These institutions were founded more than 200 years ago. The cities of Venice and Florence both established them to repair and maintain the many artworks in public property of the two cities. Like many art galleries, both have a star in their vast collections: these very special pieces of art come both from Tuscan artists, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. In this guide, discover the similarities and differences between the Accademia Gallery in Florence and Venice.
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Accademia Gallery in Florence
The Accademia Gallery in Florence is the 4th most visited museum in Italy with over 1.4 million visitors each year, mostly because of Michelangelo's David, exposed in the halls of the Via Ricasoli Palazzo. It has been welcoming visitors year-round since 1872. In that year, the city of Florence decided to move the 12,000-pound David statue from Piazza della Signoria indoors, to a museum, to protect it from decay. You should also know that the Accademia Gallery in Florence is the museum with the highest number of Michelangelo’s sculptures in the world. Michelangelo was one of the most important Italian sculptors, painters, architects of the Renaissance born in Florence in 1475. The Accademia is definitely worth a visit if you plan to visit the romantic Tuscan city.
Accademia Gallery in Venice
In the Venetian Accademia Gallery, you will find fewer sculptures and more paintings. The collection includes paintings of Tintoretto, Carpaccio, Bellini and Veronese. Interestingly, the names for the originally Venetian drink “Bellini” and the “Carpaccio” dish were inspired by the colors of these paintings. The former is a dish with raw meat, decorated with herbs, oil and vegetables and got its name from the similarity to the colorful Carpaccio paintings hanging in the Accademia. The “Bellini” is a peach-colored cocktail, invented at Harry’s Bar near St. Mark's Square in the 1940s. The unique color reminded its inventor of a saint’s toga in a painting of Giovanni Bellini. Admire these meters-high paintings and their colors in the many high halls of this very special art gallery in Venice. Audio guides are available for easy understanding as well as guided tours in many languages.
The Accademia's Main Artworks
Michelangelo's David (Florence)
Standing at a whopping 17-feet tall, Michelangelo's David inside of the Accademia in Florence needs no introduction. As you shuffle through the maze of separate rooms inside of the Accademia, you'll see a myriad of signs pointing to the museum's main event. Finally, the sculpture will appear right in front of you in a grandiose hall, standing in an elegant rotunda. After tons of controversy over where the original Statue of David should be placed, he now stands in all of his glory on an earthquake-sensitive platform. Make sure you visit this iconic sculpture on a guided tour during your visit to Florence.
Leonardo's Vitruvian Man (Venice)
The Accademia Gallery of Venice has its star too: The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci created in 1487. The drawing of ink on paper depicts a man inscribed in a circle and square. The 13.6x10 inch large paper sheet is often referred to as the “Proportions of Man”. In contrast to Michelangelo’s David, the Accademia of Venice keeps this very special piece of art hidden from the public most of the time. Because of its sensitivity to light exposure and the threat of microorganisms in the air, it is only shown in the context of extraordinary exhibitions of the museum. In 2019, you have the rare opportunity to see it.
In 2019, an exhibition is organized at the Accademia showing thirty-five signed drawings, including the historically important Vitruvian Man. The objects will be on display from April 17 to July 14 and visitors will be able to retrace the fundamental stages of the master's life and be able to look at twenty-five drawings created by Leonardo da Vinci during his stay in Venice in the early years of the 1500s. The occasion of the exhibition is the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci (1519-2019).
When you see the drawing of the “Vitruvian Man” you will observe that it has annotations, which were made by architect Vitruvius who described the human figure as the principal source of proportion. There are two overlapping men pictured, both with different centres, one center are the genitals and the other one is the navel. The length of the men’s foot is exactly 1/7 of the men's height, this is annotated on the drawing too.
How to Visit the Accademia Galleries
The Accademia Gallery in Florence is very easy to access, as it's right in the heart of the city. If you take a guided Statue of David tour, you won't even have to worry about the directions, as your guide will lead you directly to the museum. If you're doing a solo visit though, it's a very easy walk down Via Ricasoli from Piazza del Duomo.
You can reach the “Gallerie dell’Accademia” by taking the vaporetto lines 1 or 2 or by foot in about 20 minutes from Saint Mark’s square and 30 minutes from Piazzale Roma/Train Station. They are located right next to the Accademia Bridge and many signs all over the city will show you the way to it. The regular fare is EUR 15.00, children below 18 years enter free. EU-Citizens below the age of 26 are eligible to a discount. The museum opens at 8:15 a.m. and closes at 19:15am, except Monday were closure is scheduled at 2 p.m.
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