Ordinarily, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy is a sea of art-lovers and tourists, bodies packed wall to wall as everyone vies to get a view of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” that doesn’t include a dozen selfie-sticks. The art museum, which is housed in the Piazza della Signora at the heart of the Tuscan city, usually sees over 2 million visitors a year.
In early March, the Italian government ordered all museums closed. Since then, Eike Schmidt, director of the Uffizi, estimates hat the museum has lost over $13 million in revenue and over 1 million visitors. Now, with Italy at last relaxing travel and closure restrictions as of Wednesday, June 3rd, the museum can open up again, but at a severely diminished capacity.
Now, Uffizi will only allow 450 people inside at a time to allow for distancing. The result; comparatively deserted galleries, even when the museum as at capacity. Likewise, the Sistine Chapel and the Vitican Museums have also just reopened, also to extremely reduced numbers. And art enthusiasts are taking advantage.
In the Vatican Museums is a further inducement to come and enjoy the empty spaces – a “lost” treasure of High Renaissance artist Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, commonly known as Raphael.
Earlier this year, a work that was previously assumed to be the product of some of Raphael’s workshop students completed a lengthy restoration, during which art experts decided that the mural was the work of Raphael himself. The small mural, featuring two female figures representing justice and friendship, was set to be unveiled at an international convention of art experts in April, but the convention was canceled by COVID-19, so now early visitors to the reopened Italian art museums will get an advance look at this newly “re-discovered” major work, displayed in place in the Hall of Constantine.
Source: AP News
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