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MA Museum Studies students study museum history of Florence onsite

The spectacular “density” of artworks and architecture in Florence, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site (1982, 2015), reflects a nucleus of some of the most important collecting histories and museums in the world, ranging from the unparalleled Renaissance acquisitions of the Medici dynasty to the extraordinary house museums of 19th and 20th century collectors to the first national museums in Italy.

This spring, MA students from the Museum Studies program at Leiden University took an excursion to Florence as part of a course on Museum History of Florence, organized by MCS Research Group member Dr. Laurie Kalb Cosmo and in partnership with the NIKI (Nederlands Interuniversitair Kunsthistorisch Instituut/Dutch University Institute for Art History), with funding from the Leiden University Programs Committee. Students were treated to exceptional and inspiring guided tours by museum directors and curators from the city’s world-renowned museums and foreign educational institutions, including Palazzo Pitti, Museo dell’Opera di Duomo, Museo di Antropologia e Etnologia, Villa La Pietra (New York University Florence), and the Photothek at Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut, and toured others, such as the Galleria degli Uffizi and Museo Nazionale del Bargello.

In anticipation of these visits, seminars in Leiden addressed the intellectual and political motivations that formed the Florence museums and educational institutions, as well as their sumptuous collections and the architecture that houses them. Students also visited the Rijksmuseum, where curator Dr. Alexander Dencher described Italian collections in the Dutch national museum. Leiden University lecturer Wouter Wagemakers presented in Leiden and Florence on Renaissance painting and sculpture. These classes provided students with theoretical frameworks to place Florence museums in a broader context of European museum formation and helped them develop paper topics and plan their research in Florence.

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