According to legend, Michelangelo once hid in an underground corridor in 1530 to avoid persecution from Pope Clement VII, who was laying siege on Florence. Located under the Medici Chapels, the Italian polymath once used the walls of the space as a canvas to create a series of human figures scrawled in charcoal and chalk.
Nearly five decades since it was first unearthed, Michelangelo’s secret drawing room will be open for public viewing from November 15 to March 30, 2024. “This place allows today’s visitors the unique experience of being able to come into direct contact not only with the creative process of master,” said Francesca de Luca, curator of the Museum of the Medici Chapels, “but also with the perception of the formation of his myth of divine artist, taken as a model by his contemporary colleagues and by the young people enrolled in the Academy of Drawing Arts, of which Michelangelo was named Father and Master, who in 1563 established the its seat in the Sacristy.”
The corridor was largely unknown since it was sealed and used for coal storage from the 16th century till the art was first discovered in 1975. Paolo Dal Poggetto, a former director at the Medici Chapels, first attributed the wall drawings to Michelangelo, but not all experts agree with him.
Once patrons to the artist, Michelangelo is believed to have been on the run from the Medicis — whom Pope Clement VII was a part of — following their return to Florence in 1527 from a revolt that the artist had been an advocate of. Only 100 people will be able to tour the roughly 33 foot long and eight feet high corridor for 15 minute intervals at a time.
For more on art, we spoke with photographer Hassan Hajjaj for the latest Through the Lens.
Bargello National Museums
Via del Proconsolo, 4
50122 Firenze FI, Italy