Museo dell'Opera del Duomo : Michelin's recommendations
First and foremost, the museum explains how Brunelleschi built the cupola: models by the artist describe the extraordinary design work involved in filling up the octagonal hole which had been left wide-open for forty years or so; the presentation on the "making of the Duomo" is completed with an exhibition of tools used at the time (winches, compasses, set squares, etc.). The same approach is applied to the façade with an exhibition of various projects proposed to finish the work of Arnolfo di Cambio, left incomplete when the architect died in 1337, and which was ultimately destroyed in 1587. Various statues that Cambio had intended as part of his façade are exhibited here. On the mezzanine is a Pieta by Michelangelo. It is quite different from the one in St Peter's in Rome, undertaken by the artist shortly before his death and never finished. Michelangelo is supposed to have depicted himself as Nicodemus supporting Christ. The Mary Magdalen was added by one of his pupils and detracts from the unity of the whole work. On the upper floor are the Cantorie choir galleries, one of which was sculpted by Della Robbia for the doors of the Duomo sacristy. The focal point, however, is a distressingly realistic carved wooden statue of a long, emaciated figure, with long hair down to her feet, Donatello's Mary Magdalen (three other statues including Jeremiah and Habakkuk can also be seen). Della Robbia's medallions for the campanile base and a few bas-reliefs sculpted for the baptistery by Ghiberti are displayed to advantage here to preserve them from pollution.
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