The San Marco Museum (Museo Nazionale di San Marco) in Florence is housed in what used to be a medieval monastery. Fra Angelico lived, worked and painted in this monastery and it is here that his best works are on display.
San Marco Museum Florence
Address, opening hours and entrance fee
Address: Piazza San Marco, 3 50121 Florence (Tel. +39 055 2388608). Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 8.15am to 1.50pm. Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from 8.15am to 4.50pm. The box office closes one hour before closing time. Closed: 1st, 3rd and 5th Sunday of the month; 2nd and 4th Monday of the month; 1st January, 1st May, 25th December. Entrance fee: 4 Euro. Discount: 2 Euro.
Cosimo de’ Medici il Vecchio had the monastery converted into a new accommodation for the Domenicans in 1437. The architect was Michelozzo. In 1441 the same architect had the very first public library in Europe built there.
The Puritan priest Girolamo Savonarola was, from 1491 until he was publicly burned at the stake in 1498 in the Piazza della Signoria, one of the people living in this monastery.
Fra Angelico painted religious works of great size, but with an astounding amount of meticulous details from everyday life. The painter’s altarpieces are in the ancient Ospizio dei Pellegrini. Highlights are a “Descent from the Cross”, the “Tabernacle of the Linen Workers” (1435) and the altarpiece of the San Marco itself (1443). The latter depicts the saints Cosma and Damiano.
In wha tused to be the monks’ Dormitorio (“Dormitory”) one of the most famous series of frescoes by Fra Angelico (and his helpers) can be seen. “The Annunciation of the Lord” is located at the top of the stairs. When you are inside, you can see several crucifixion scenes.
Other interesting rooms are the Refettorio Grande (16th and 17th century painting) and the Sala del Capitolo. This “Chapter Room” was painted entirely with frescoes by Fra Angelico himself in 1442.
The Sala del Cenacolo is named after the “Last Supper” painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio. The museum shop is in this room.
In the cell where Savonarola lived, a painting of unknown hand can be seen, depicting “Savonarola at the stake in Piazza della Signoria”.
The rooms of the museum are located around a central courtyard.