Visitors Gain Access to Hidden Room in Florence’s Medici Chapel to Examine Possible Michelangelo Drawings


Summary: Starting November 15, visitors will have the opportunity to visit a hidden room inside Florence’s Medici Chapel, where charcoal drawings believed to be by Michelangelo are located. After years of debate among experts, the room will be open to the public on a limited basis, with strict measures in place to protect the delicate works.

Discovering the Hidden Room

In 1975, a hidden room was discovered inside Florence’s Medici Chapel while officials were searching for an additional exit for increasing numbers of visitors. The tiny 10-by-3 meters space had been used to store coal until 1955, after which it was sealed and forgotten under a trapdoor hidden beneath furniture. The room contained delicate charcoal drawings that were found beneath layers of plaster.

Debate Over Michelangelo’s Authorship

The discovery of the drawings sparked a debate among experts about their authorship. The former director of the museum, Paolo Dal Poggetto, believed the drawings to be the work of Michelangelo. However, major scholars of Michelangelo’s drawings dismissed the attributions at the time. While some experts held a more moderate view, suggesting that some of the drawings could be Michelangelo’s while others may be by his followers, the debate has continued for the past 50 years.

Michelangelo’s Potential Hideout

According to Dal Poggetto’s theory, Michelangelo may have used the hidden room as a refuge from the wrath of Pope Clement VII. The artist supported a short-lived republic that overthrew the ruling Medici family. It is believed that Michelangelo sketched studies for his projects in the room, including drawings of the legs of Giuliano de’ Medici, which are also featured in the nearby New Sacristy.

Limited Access and Preservation Measures

After years of restricted access, officials have made the decision to open the hidden room to the public on a limited basis. Starting November 15, up to 100 visitors per week will be allowed entry into the room by reservation, with only four visitors at a time. To protect the delicate charcoal drawings, the room will be alternated between exposure to LED lights and extended periods of darkness. Each visitor will have a maximum of 15 minutes inside the space.

Tags: Florence, Medici Chapel, Michelangelo, hidden room, charcoal drawings