“Chamber of Secrets” with Michelangelo’s works of art open to the public | Abroad

After a 43-year renovation, Michelangelo’s hidden drawings in the Medici Chapels in Florence are open to the public. Discovered in 1975, the artworks are made in charcoal and sanguine and depict human figures in various poses. Although the artist is famous for works such as the statue of ‘David’, the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and the dome of St. Peter’s that dominates Rome’s skyline, this “chamber of secrets” reveals lesser-known works of his.

Below the Medici Chapels in Florence is a small room where Michelangelo created elaborate tombs for members of the Medici family. These are located behind the San Lorenzo Church in the New Sacristy.

In 1975, during renovation work to create a new exit for this location, a restorer conducting cleaning experiments discovered several drawings of human figures. These drawings were hidden under two layers of plaster in a corridor under the sacristy, which was previously used as a storage room for coal.

Michelangelo’s Hiding Place

The figures are sketched in charcoal and sanguine (rust-colored chalk or chalk). They are often drawn on top of each other and vary in size. These drawings were attributed to Michelangelo by Paolo Dal Poggetto, the former director of the Medici Chapels.

They suspect that Michelangelo hid in the claustrophobic space for several weeks in 1530. (The space is approximately 10 meters long, 3 meters wide and 2.44 meters high). This happened after Pope Clement VII, who belonged to the Medici family, returned to Florence after previously being exiled by the republican government for which Michelangelo had worked. The Pope had initially pronounced the death penalty, but after two months this decision was reversed. Michelangelo returned to Florence before moving to Rome four years later.

The drawings are thought to be sketches for future works, including the legs of one of the statues in the New Sacristy. “This gives today’s visitors the unique experience of having direct contact not only with the creative process of the master, but also with the perception of the formation of his myth as a divine artist,” said Francesca de Luca, curator of the Museum of the Medici Chapels. Paola D’Agostino, director of the Bargello Museums, of which the chapels are part, said the restoration had been “time-consuming, constant and meticulous work”.

Limited access

This space is normally closed to the public, but from November 15 it will have very limited access to protect the drawings. Only 100 people are allowed to visit in groups of four each week, and there are 15-minute guided tours every day, except Tuesdays and Sundays. Please note that the location can only be reached via a narrow staircase, so people with disabilities and children under 10 years old unfortunately cannot participate.

Reservations are open until March 30 as the opening is only on a trial basis.