Monday, December 2, 2019
Museum review: The Bargello
Name of Museum:
Museo Nazionale del Bargello if you like
If they kept The David by Michelangelo here The David would be more improved by it than the Bargello.
Oh shit, Bernini actually is better than Michelangelo!
The best sculpture museum.
No, that's all, just... the... best... sculpture... museum, you know, on Earth.
Overall rating (not a strict average of the below) out of 100:
100, but I'm being pretty nitpicky to score it so low. Sorry. I'm working on being less critical.
Okay, these are a bit weird, and though I'm usually pretty organized about things like museum times, we for some reason decided to assume this would have fairly normal museum hours and approached it casually. So even though I had their hours in my pocket, we had to go here three times before it was open because we never bothered to consult them. Still, the Bargello's extraordinarily central location made this hit and miss approach the sort of thing we were content to indulge.
Also I'm pretty sure they love to change and have special hours regularly so take the below with a grain of salt. There can be better or worse hours at the drop of a hat. It's also cute how when they are closed they look kind of like they've never been opened and will never open again. They look positively boarded up!
Tu-Th: 8:15 to 1:50
F: 8:15 to 5:20 (Wooo! Live it up Bargello!)
Sat.: 8:15 to 1:50
Sun.: 8:15 to 1:20 (you can't possibly expect them to keep those late night party hours on Sunday like they do on Saturday!)
Quality of building architecture:
Oddly... perfect. Some of that is simply a tribute to it being 750 years old, which is the kind of thing that improves nearly any building. Basically (from the outside) it's like a single great castle tower, plopped down charmingly in the middle of town.
Quality of interior design and display:
Oh. Am I supposed to score this? Er, many stars! Twenty? More than everywhere else? I'm not sure I've ever enjoyed a museum layout/interior more. Compact yet deceptively large, it's built around a courtyard and it's not like anywhere I've ever been, except maybe it's a little like a ruined castle? Except it's not ruined and it's full of wonders. I kept thinking: well, that must be it for the museum, when suddenly there was a whole other warren of rooms, another floor, or a hallway full of bronze animals, including a turkey. A turkey!
General location in the World:
Where, as the fable goes, Europe woke up from the dark ages: Florence. In The Bargello go ahead and believe this as you will. It's easy enough to do.
More specific location in city:
800 feet from the best gelateria in town, Dei Neri, as the crow flies. But giving you directions between the two would take hours. Just look for the crenelated tower with a crenelated tower. No, not that one. That one.
Cost and entrance fees:
8 euros. This is probably the most unreasonably cheap thing in Florence. The sort of thing that causes the director of The Met in New York to wake up in the middle of the night with a feeling of burning shame.
Ease of access:
I think by this I mean more "How hard is it to get here?" The answer is sort of: get to Florence and you're done. So, pretty easy.
Despite actually working as a portrait painter, and loving portraiture in painting, I've never entirely taken to it in sculpture. The sculptural bust has generally been of passing interest to me, but perhaps the best sculptors have some responsibility for that feeling. When the giants of the field wanted to make their mark they've tended towards grand figures, magnificent, affecting tableaus, and dynamic, twisting compositions. There are plenty of those in the Bargello, some of them astonishing.
But I heard they had a Bernini here. So we dutifully checked it out because, you know, Bernini.
It's a portrait bust, of Costanza Bonarelli.
Yes, it's the best work here, and maybe the most magical turn of sculpture I've ever seen.
I guess the sculpture? I probably should have mentioned this somewhere earlier?
Revolving collections and shows:
It actually seems like they might do stuff like this in some rooms, but it's pure gravy.
Quiet, cool, castley, mellow, firm, and curiously uncrowded.
Er, unobtrusive? Works for me.
Nope. Oh well. Oddly I feel tolerant of this since the space seems so fully and well used.
Yes, at the entrance. It's about average as far as museum gift shops go, which is a shame really because they could sell some... stuff. If only it weren't all the same... stuff.