Uffizi Gallery announces radical change to layout

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence

 FLORENCE -- This Tuscan city’s Uffizi Gallery has announced a radical change to its layout, as it plans to put all its Renaissance masterpieces on one floor, from Leonardo to Raffaello, cultural sources said Wednesday.

 Italy’s most visited museum is conducting a huge adaptation of its layout in order to better handle the mass tourism it receives. The gallery’s German director Eike Schmidt, after one year of being in the role, is working to create an autonomous route through the gallery, alternative to the more complete one -- for the masses of tourists who visit the Uffizi in search of a handful of symbolic Renaissance masterpieces by Botticelli, Leonardo, Raffaello and Michelangelo.

 The consequences of the project -- with the aim of opening Nov. 6, 2017 -- will implicate a series of movements that will have a domino effect on some of the most iconic rooms of the museum. It will mean taking apart some of the projects carries out in the last 10 years by the ex-director Antonio Natali, La Repubblica reports.

 Schmidt’s plan is to concentrate the works by these four great Renaissance masters on the second floor. Currently, the paintings by Raffaello -- including the famous ‘Madonna of the Goldfinch’ -- are exhibited on the first floor in the last of the Red Rooms, opened in 2012, and displayed alongside other artists from the 1500s like Pontormo and Bronzino.

 “The signal came from guides and gallery assistants -- it is too narrow an environment, one group is enough and everything gets blocked up,” said the director. Thus, the Renaissance master will be taken up to the second floor to share the space with Michelangelo, Leonardo and Botticelli.

 The Red Rooms will instead house a series of self-portraits currently in the Vasari Corridor, including some by Carracci and Rembrandt, and a rotating selection of 20th-century and contemporary artists.

 The new environment on the second floor will a big vast space divided in two, in order to allow more groups to stop and contemplate the principal attractions. “In this way, the visitors have more space and desire to admire also the other, lesser-known works by the artists,” continued Schimdt.

 He assures that this radical move will not promote a ‘fetishist culture’ as denounced by Natali, and says that “the problem of great influxes of tourists does not get resolved by ignoring it, but by giving the possibility of choice. Inviting people without forcing them to do anything.”

 The gallery also predicts a rise in numbers of visitors due to the Nuovi Uffizi just finished -- “in this way we will be ready for it,” concluded the director.