Musei di Prato e Provincia

Cathedral museum

The "Opera del Duomo" museum was built to host a series of artworks related to the Cathedral (the Duomo) and to the cult of the Holy Belt. It was inaugurated in 1967 in two rooms between the square and the Romanesque cloister, and during the following decade it was expanded to hold artworks from the diocesan churches as well as the prestigious reliefs of the Donatello's pulpit (removed from the outside in 1970, to ensure its conservation). In 1980 the Vaults were connected under the Cathedral's transept, while from 1993 to 1996 the various sections were reconnected into an unique and more articulated path.

 

Museum's itinerary

The evocative museum's itinerary winds along some rooms of the ancient Palazzo dei Proposti (lit. "provosts' palace")  or Palazzo Vescovile (lit. "episcopal palace"), around the Romanesque cloister, to end near the Vaults under the Cathedral.

 

Sala del Due-Trecento

The Sala del Due-Trecento (lit. "thirteenth-fourteenth century room"), which is decorated with monochrome tempers made by Antonio di Miniato (1387 -1466 circa), hosts several altarpieces and pieces of gold background polyptychs from the fourteenth to the early fifteenth century (made by Giovanni Bonsi, Lorenzo di Niccolò and Giovanni Toscani). Among the most ancient artworks there is a frescoed lunette from the mid-thirteenth century, detached from the side portal of the Duomo, and a vigorous sandstone high relief from the Badia di Montepiano (lit. "abbey of  Montepiano"), made by Giroldo di Iacopo di Como probably around 1262, representing the Madonna con bambino in trono fra i Santi Michele arcangelo, Pietro e Paolo (Virgin Mary with Child enthroned among the Saints Michael the Archangel, Peter and Paul).

In the same room there are fourteenth century sculptures, including an elegant wooden sculpture representing the Madonna con Bambino (Virgin Mary with Child) (1310-1320) (sacred furnishings from the fourteenth to fifteenth century) and a beautiful Testa di Cristo (Head of Christ) (1220-30) made by a Tuscan sculptor, which is part of the ancient Romanesque Crucifix of the Pieve di Santo Stefano (lit. "church of St. Stephen"), that is the current Cathedral.

 

Sala dei Parati

The Sala dei Parati (lit. "panels room") hosts the exceptional Parado di Santo Stefano (St. Stephen panel), a gift to the Church (about 1590) from Alessandro de 'Medici, who then became Pope Leo XI, cut in red velvet on a gold "teletta" (drape woven with gold or silver threads) background (with a pomegranate motif) and enriched by remarkable embroideries.

The room also hosts decorated choir-books made between the late-fifteenth and the early-sixteenth centuries, as well as sacred goldsmiths from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century.

 

Sala della Cintola

The Sala della Cintola (lit. "Holy Belt room") hosts artworks related to the cult of the Marian relics. Among these, the ancient fourteenth-century pulpit, previous to the one made by Donatello and Michelozzo, is used for the exposition of the Holy Belt. The two white marble high-relief panels representing L'Assunta che dà la Cintola a San Tommaso (L'Assunta who gives the Holy Belt to St. Thomas) e San Tommaso che consegna la Cintola ad un sacerdote (St.Thomas who gives the Holy Belt to a priest), are made around 1360 by the Sienese sculptor Niccolò di Cecco del Mercia and his son Sano.

The room also hosts other two reliefs made by the same authors, which are the Dormitio Virginis and L'Incoronzione della Vergine (Coronation of the Virgin) (unfinished).

 

Archaeological section

A flight of stairs leads to the archaeological section, an excavation area highlighted during the expansion works of the museum. Important findings have been made here, including: ceramic remains from the Etruscan period to the Renaissance (fourth century BC - fifteenth century), a part of the twelfth century city walls and a ninth century burial of a woman, the most ancient woman from Prato.

 

Sala del Rinascimento

In the Sala del Rinascimento (lit "Renaissance room") are exhibited some masterpieces of the fourteenth and sixteenth century made in Prato, including the splendid altarpiece with the Esequie di San Girolamo (St. Jerome's exequies) made by Filippo Lippi (born around 1455), commissioned by Geminiano Inghirami, provost by the Pieve di Santo Stefano (the current Duomo) which is portrayed in the painting. Visitors can also admire the beautiful altarpiece with the Madonna e Santi (Virgin with Saints) of the Maestro della natività di Castello (1450), the panel with Santa Lucia (Saint Lucy) of the school of Francesco Botticini (1490) and the "tondo" (term that indicates a circular work of art, either a painting or a sculpture) representing the Sacra Famiglia (Holy Family)of the school of Sandro Botticelli.

 

Sala del pulpito

In the Sala del Pulpito (lit. "pulpit room") the parapet of the Cathedral's external pulpit was built by Donatello (Donato de 'Bardi, 1386-1466) and his workshop between 1434 and 1438; it is composed of seven relief panels and four minor elements (with "lesene", vertical pillars that protrudes from a wall with a decorative function, usually rhythmically repeated), in white marble with a mosaic background, which simulate a small circular temple with circles of dancing angels. After a long and careful restoration, since April 2011, it is again possible to admire the precious external pulpit's capital, a bronze artwork made by Donatello and Michelozzo (1433). In the same room, in spite of its reduced proportions, the Cappella della Sacra Cintola (lit. "Holy Belt's Chapel"), made by Maso di Bartolomeo (1446), represents a precious and breathless masterpiece of the Renaissance goldsmithing art, which until the seventeenth century enclosed the relic of the Virgin's Belt.

 

Sala del Seicento (lit. "seventeenth century room")

In this room, situated below the Romanesque cloister, there are three altarpieces from the Baroque altars of the Cathedral demolished in the nineteenth century, while in a display cabinet the visitors can admire sacred furnishings of the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, such as ostensories, chalices and sacred silverware from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century, which are displayed in a glass showcase. Among the numerous objects on display, especially important are the Busto reliquiario di Sant'Anna (Reliquary Bust of St. Anne) by Antonio di Salvi (1490) and a very refined altar Crucifix, which is thought to be a mature work of Giambologna (1529-1608) or either made by one of his pupil following the sculptor's model.

 

The Romanesque cloister

During the museum's itinerary, visitors will also see the Cathedral's Cloister. Using the Romanesque style, the cloister was built in the second half of the twelfth century on the four sides of the internal courtyard, between the Cathedral and the Palazzo dei Proposti. After a collapse between the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries only the eastern side remained intact. Made with decorations in white and green marble of Prato (serpentine), it represents interesting figured capitals, three of which are attributed to the Master of Cabestany, while the Corinthian one in white marble on the left dates back to the Imperial Roman period, and on the opposite side stands its medieval imitation. In the second order are instead fifteenth-century pillars.

In the garden, visitors can then admire two contemporary art sculptures: Quattro per Donatello (Four for Donatello, 2001) by the English artist Robert Morris, one of the most important exponents of the Minimal Art; Trio (id.,1998) by Giuliano Giuman, an iron and painted glass composition.

Below the cloister, we go down into the sepulchral chapel known as Migliorati's chapel, where there is a twelfth century hut-shaped tomb. From here, through a corridor built in the eighties, you can reach the Antiquarium and finally the Vaults.

 

Antiquarium

In the Antiquarium are exhibited finds found during the excavations carried out in the seventies in the area of ​​the Cathedral and the Palazzo Vescovile. The finds include: terracotta slabs, some mosaic floor's fragments of the ancient Pieve and architectural fragments. This environment was used for burials until the eighteenth century.

 

The Vaults

The Vaults are a large area covered by cross vaults (early fourteenth century) under the Cathedral's chapels, used from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century for burials of important families, of which there remain many coats of arms and paintings.

At the entrance there is the cappella di Santo Stefano (lit."St. Stephen chapel") with its lowered cross vaults. Here, the brothers Pietro and Antonio di Miniato (about 1420) painted the lunettes' green monochromes, the faux triptych with the Madonna e il Bambino tra i Santi Stefano e Lorenzo (Virgin Mary and Child between Saints Stephen and Lawrence) and the scene of the Lapidazione di Santo Stefano (Lapidation of St. Stephen). In the chapel there is an original "vespaio", from the early sixteenth century, made up of about one hundred overturned terracotta bowls used to protect the environment from humidity.

Back in the corridor of the Vaults, among the numerous coats of arms and frescoes, the most important is a Pietà (id., 1340) made by Bonaccorso di Cino; further on, the Cappella Guizzelmi (lit. "Guizzelmi chapel") preserves frescoes by the painters Girolamo Ristori and Tommaso di Piero (1508-10).

The visit ends under the Duomo's bell tower, an ancient communication path between Piazza della Pieve and Via di Borgo al Cornio (today's Via Garibaldi).

Addresses and contacts

Piazza Duomo
, 49
- 59100
Prato
Website: http://www.diocesiprato.it/museo-dellopera-del-duomo/
E-mail: musei.diocesani@diocesiprato.it
Phone: 0574 29339
Fax: 0574 445084
Opening time Monday to Saturday 10: 00-13: 00/14: 00-17: 00
Sunday 14: 00-17: 00
Closed on Tuesday.
The ticket office closes half an hour before the closed museum.
Full: 5.00 & euro;
Reduced: 4.00 & euro; Over 65, children 7 hours per 14 years, groups over 10; 3.00 & euro; Schools duty cycle; 2.00 & euro; Groups of parishes and catechism
Free admission: children up to 6 years old, disabled and accompanying persons; Tour guides, group leaders (2 for maximum group of 25 persons), ICOM associates, accredited journalists.
Pratomusei Individual Card: & euro; 13,00; Family card & Euro 26,00 allows to visit Museau du Tissu, Museum of Pretorio Building and Museum of the work of the Cathedral, validity three days of the show.
Ticket includes the visit to the frescoes of Filippo Lippi in the Cathedral and At the Museum of the Opera of the Cathedral.
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Data ultima revisione dei contenuti della pagina: venerd 05 ottobre 2018

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