In one word: GO!
On June 24, 2016, the day of the annual Florentine celebration of the city’s patron saint John the Baptist, the ‘new’ Museum of the Innocents (Museo degli Innocenti) reopens after an extensive, nearly three year, restoration. The museum is located on the southeast side of the Piazza Santissima Annunziata at the end of the Via dei Servi, steps from the Piazza Duomo.
This restoration shares an intriguing variety of information, from the structure’s architectural history, its involvement with the guilds of Florence, the designs instituted by Filippo Brunelleschi (he of the famous Dome of the Duomo of Florence), to digitized video or audio interviews with seventy (70) people who were cared for at the Ospedale.
It was during the 15th Century that the Institute of the Orphans, Istituto degli Innocenti, was founded to support children and their families.
The children, born out of wedlock or unwanted, were brought without judgement or question to the Innocenti and were left in the exceptional hands of the Sisters who cared for these sventurati, the ‘unfortunates’.
Architecturally, the building is a stunner of early Renaissance architecture. Brunelleschi’s gorgeous loggia is bejeweled by works of babies in swaddling clothes created in the workshop of Andrea della Robbia. One of the the roundels, in blue and white ceramic, was selected to be the symbol of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The museum contains records from the 15th Century onward, lists containing details of every child welcomed in to the Ospedale. The library also contains information regarding the children’s training and release into various programs during the Renaissance and beyond. From convents to monasteries, workshops of artists and sculptors as well as numerous other apprenticeships, the children raised in the Ospedale moved within, and beyond, the confines of Florence to become contributing members of society.
Today the Florentine phone book lists numerous families with the last name of Innocenti, a shadow of the institution’s significant impact on the life of the city.
The Istituto degli Innocenti is managed through a Board of Directors, all of whom are appointed by the Province of Florence. Their charter is to provide support for children in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The museum contains a library and resource center for the study of children’s care from the time of the Ospedale’s founding to today, even as seven ‘innocenti’ currently remain resident in the structure.
On the heels of the reopening of the Museo del Opera del Duomo in October 2015, this is yet another MUST VISIT when you are in bella Firenze.
Open 10:00AM – 7:00PM Daily
Entrance Ticket: Euro 5.00
Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, 12
+39 055 20371