Although it opened in 1891, the history of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (Museum of the Works of the Cathedral) in Florence started much earlier, at the end of the 13th century, with the construction of Santa Maria del Fiore.
The “Opera del Duomo” was a municipal institution formed by workmen, artists and administrators who were directly engaged in building the city’s most important church – a project that was carried out over centuries. Although relatively normal at the time, Florentine people turned this slow progress into an ironic simile for any banal work that seemed to take forever: “It will never come to an end, like the Works of Santa Maria del Fiore”.
Yet time allows art to flourish, and in this case also let the Opera establish itself and outlive its original project: once the Duomo was completed in 1436, the institution continued to grow, gathering the largest collection of Florentine monumental sculptures in the world. Its museum is now home to masterpieces in silver, bronze and marble, created by the most important artists of the Middle Ages and Renaissance – on display in twenty-eight rooms across a total space of six thousand square meters.
In October 2015, the Museum of the Works of the Cathedral reopened to the public after further additions – because around here, working for art seems to never come to an end.