Secret Room of Michelangelo’s Drawings Will Open to the Public for the First Time Ever

Italy is home to countless treasures from the Renaissance. Michelangelo alone left behind an impressive legacy of architecture, painting, and sculpture. While most art lovers are acquainted with his most famous works—like the Sistine Chapel ceiling and statue of David—there are more artworks that have remained out of the public eye, until now. On November 15, the Musei del Bargello is opening previously secret rooms located underneath Florence's Basilica of San Lorenzo that were once inhabited by Michelangelo himself. There, he left behind a collection of charcoal and chalk drawings along the walls.

It is believed that Michelangelo lived in this vault after becoming involved in a political struggle with the Medici family. In 1527, he participated in a populist revolt that ultimately led to the Medici's exile from the city, after which he became involved with the republican government. When the Medici family returned in 1530, this ultimately led the current Pope, who was also a Medici, to issue Michelangelo a death sentence. Amidst these tense circumstances, it is speculated that Michelangelo took refuge inside the vault, where he would spend two months.

The room measures 32 feet long, 6.5 feet wide, and has ceilings that stretch to 8 feet. There is also a single window that opens to the street below. Michelangelo channeled his creative energy to drawing on the walls of the vault, creating sketches of his own paintings and sculptures, like Leda and the Swan and David. “This very small environment is truly unique due to its exceptional evocative potential,” said Francesca de Luca, curator of the Museum of the Medici Chapels, in a statement. “Its walls seem to barely contain the numerous sketches of figures, mostly of monumental format.”

After the Renaissance, the vault faded into obscurity until its rediscovery in 1975. This will be the first time it is opened to the general public. Due to the compact size of the vault, the museum will limit tickets to 100 per week. Additionally, only four visitors are permitted inside the room for 15 minutes at a time. These precautions are to help protect the condition of the drawings. The museum adds: “The limited number of attendance per time slots is due to the need to interrupt the exposure period to led light for extended periods of darkness.”

Michelangelo's secret room will open November 15, 2023 and run until March 30, 2024. Adult tickets cost €20 ($21.20), and people under 18 are allowed inside for free.

For the first time ever, a secret vault of Michelangelo's sketches will open to the public in Florence starting November 15, 2023.

The room is located under Florence's Basilica of San Lorenzo. It will remain open for the public until March, 30, 2024.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Musei del Bargello (@bargellomuseums)

Musei del Bargello: Website | Facebook | Instagram
h/t: [Colossal]

All images via Musei del Bargello.

Related Articles:

8 Famous Michelangelo Sculptures That Transformed Art

Principal Forced to Resign for Sharing Michelangelo’s ‘David’ Visits the Sculpture in Florence

10 Surprising Facts About Michelangelo

Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content