Although the various parts of this Soprintendenza Speciale are famous, it is practically unknown as a whole. This is because its parts – at least the best-known – have names that are famous all over the world: the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia Gallery, the Pitti Palace with its four museums plus the Boboli Gardens, the Bargello National Museum, the Medici Chapels, San Marco: sites housing artistic masterpieces created by celebrated masters including Giotto, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Caravaggio… The oldest nucleus of these museums and galleries derives from the collections of the Medici family that held power in Florence for three centuries, maintaining patronage and art collecting at the highest levels of excellence. It is precisely thanks to the last of the Medici, the Electress Palatine Anna Maria Luisa, that the Italian State came into possession of the collections – with the proviso that they should remain in Florence – which in 1737 she declared she wished to preserve “for the ornament of the State and the utility of the Public, and to attract the curiosity of Foreigners”, a curiosity that is at the origin of modern tourism.
However, taken as a whole the Soprintendenza is an organic organism dependent on the Ministry for the Cultural Heritage and Activities, which directly manages the group of museums, villas and gardens belonging to the Italian State (the so-called “Polo Museale”), while also being responsible for the protection of the artistic, historic and ethno-anthropological heritage belonging to others within the “territory” of the city of Florence. It acts with a certain autonomy in terms of management, administration and accounts, pivoting on two crucial offices which, like lungs hidden and protected within the body, maintain its vital functions: the Finance Office and the Personnel Office.
To keep this machine running, comprising the protection, management and enhancement of the heritage, there are museum directors and executives, the officers of the Ufficio Città di Firenze, architects, technicians, warders and security staff, and the managers of ‘transversal’ offices and services (education, library, catalogue, notifications, photography department, research, permits, archives of various kinds, management of website, development of IT tools etc.): 700 people, in addition to all those who work alongside us to provide reception and educational services, and in the areas of publishing and events.
The website is the place where all this is presented in an organised way so that it is easy to find. As the result of lengthy labours carried out over recent years, also now online are entire archives of images and alphanumeric data that make it possible to access works of art that are not on display but stored in the repositories.This virtual dimension is continually expanded and strengthened, boosting the international contacts of the Florentine Soprintendenza, which is also engaged in a dynamic network of cultural exchange, in which the art exhibitions play a role of crucial importance.