Siena Cathedral Museum (Museo dell'Opera)

Your tickets to one of the oldest private museums established in Italy, the Museo dell'Opera in Siena, the Siena Cathedral Museum!
Siena Cathedral Museum (Museo dell'Opera)
From 2.50

Original treasures up close and personal.

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Overview

Founded in 1869, the Museo dell'Opera (the Siena Cathedral Museum) is housed in rooms derived from closing the first three spans of the right aisle of the so-called "Duomo Nuovo", whose construction began in 1339 and was interrupted after the Black Death of 1348. The museum was created to provide a home of far-reaching character to exhibit works of art from the Cathedral, and to collect anthem books, furnishings, and works of great value removed from their original locations over the course of centuries.

 

OPENING HOURS:

March 1 through November 2: 10:30am to 7:00pm, holidays 1:30pm to 6:00 pm

November 3 through February 28: 10:30am to 5:30pm, holidays 1:30pm to 5:30pm

Ticket office closes 30 minutes before closing time.

 

Reservations must be made with a minimum of 1-day notice.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The time you select on the order form is your preferred time. The museum or attraction will automatically confirm the closest available time, which can be anytime during opening hours on the selected date, if your preferred time is no longer available.

Reserved tickets must be picked up no later than 30 minutes before the confirmed time slot. After this time, reservations will be canceled and you will lose the right to your tickets.

 

INFORMATION for visitors with limited mobility and disabilities: The museum has an elevator and access ramp.

CANCELLATION POLICY:

Once a confirmation code has been assigned to your reservation, we can refund the cost of unused tickets, also for no shows, minus a service fee (reservation fee and online booking fee).

 

HOW TO GET THERE:

BUS LINE FLORENCE - SIENA (SITA): Click here for information regarding this line

From the North: A1 Highway – exit “Firenze Certosa”. Take “Superstrada Firenze Siena” - exit “Siena Porta San Marco.” Follow indications to “Il Fagiolone” Parking, Strada di Pescaia, to pass the checkpoint and continue until Porta San Marco, where passengers will be able to start the visit of Siena.

From the South: A1 Highway – exit “Bettolle,” then, take “Raccordo Autostradale Bettolle Siena” - entrance Siena West Ring Road - “Siena Porta San Marco.” Follow indications to “Il Fagiolone” Parking, Strada di Pescaia, to pass the checkpoint and continue until Porta San Marco, where passengers will be able to start the visit of Siena.

 

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Details

The itinerary that unfolds around the museum complex of the Cathedral will lead you into the right aisle of the so-called "Duomo Nuovo" (new cathedral), to the headquarters of the Museo dell'Opera, housed in rooms derived from closing the first three spans of the right aisle of the cathedral, whose construction began in 1339 and was interrupted after the Black Death of 1348. One of the oldest private museums in Italy, the Museo dell'Opera di Siena was founded in 1869 with the consent of the Ministry of Public Education. The goal was to create a museum of far-reaching character to exhibit works of art from the Cathedral, and to collect anthem books, furnishings and works of great value removed from their original locations over the course of centuries.

The ground floor rooms exhibit important collections of 14th century Sienese sculpture from the facade of the cathedral, with the first project signed by Giovanni Pisano, master-builder at the time (1285-1297). The extraordinary marble statues portraying Sibyls, Prophets, and Philosophers of antiquity vibrate with the artist's new manner of sculpting, and are animated by a dynamism and Gothic verism pervaded by spiritual intensity. Behind the large railing that divides the room are two beautiful She-wolves that originally sat on the columns of the cathedral's portico. The one on the left is attributed to the school of Giovanni Pisano, while the one on the right, which is much more recent, is attributed to Sienese artisans active in the second half of the 17th century. This room also exhibits two important works by 15th century artists – a bas-relief from the Chapel of San Sebastiano in the Duomo, portraying the Madonna and Child Enthroned and Cardinal Casini by Jacopo della Quercia (1437-1438), and the famous tondo by Donatello of the Madonna and Child (Madonna del Perdono, about 1458), executed for the ancient door Porta del Perdono (Door of Forgiveness) on the right side of the cathedral.

On the far end of the room you will see the grandiose stained-glass window that Duccio di Buoninsegna executed for the oculus (circular window) of the apse of the Cathedral of Siena. As several archive documents testify, the stained-glass window was executed between 1287 and 1288, and represents a unicum among the manufactured glass produced in the Middle Ages. The technique Duccio utilized in creating the work is extraordinary - the window is made up of fourteen large panels made of the highest quality glass, selected in numerous colors ranging from sapphire blue to ruby red, from golden yellow to emerald green. The scenes of the upper band have their literary source in the apocryphal text by Pseudo-Melito, and present three stories of the Virgin – burial, assumption, and coronation. The Evangelists are instead depicted seated in the triangles, while the Four Patron Saints of Siena – Bartholomew, Ansanus, Crescentius, and Savinus – appear in the lateral parts.

In an air-conditioned room on the Museum's first floor you will find the magnificent Maestà altarpiece by Duccio di Buoninsegna, the true magnum opus of the entire collection, and an absolute masterpiece of early 14th century Italian painting. This painting, executed by the Maestro between 1308 and 1311, had two painted sides, and proves to be one of the largest artistic undertakings of all time, considering that more than forty figures are depicted on the front surface and almost eighty are presented in the stories on the back, the predellas (base panels) and the crowns. The front part depicts the Madonna Enthroned, Saints and Angels, while the rear surface is divided into twenty-six scenes depicting the Passion of Christ. This same room also hosts the painting that Pietro Lorenzetti executed for the altar of San Savino in the cathedral, depicting the Nativity of the Virgin (1342).

The little room adjoining the Maestà Room houses a rich and prestigious collection of wooden sculpture and illuminated codices. Quite valuable are the Statues of the Mourners that Domenico di Niccolò dei Cori sculpted between 1414 and 1415, and the series with the Madonna and Saints executed by Jacopo della Quercia between 1415 and 1420. Glass showcases contain several of the numerous ancient codices from the Cathedral, illuminated by artists such as Lippo Vanni, Sano di Pietro and Benvenuto di Giovanni.

Continuing along your itinerary you’ll reach the Treasure Room, which exhibits more than two-hundred furnishings related to the catholic liturgy. Quite rich and important is the section devoted to chalices, while an absolutely beautiful section is devoted to the enamelware executed by Goro di ser Neroccio in the 15th century, and the reliquaries. The Reliquary of Saint Galganus merits particular attention, as it is one of the most important works of Sienese goldsmithing, dated around the end of the 13th century. Another special piece is the Reliquary of the Arm of Saint John the Baptist, which Pius II commissioned Francesco d'Antonio to create in 1466, after receiving the donation of the Saint's relic from Thomas Palaiologos. Of rare beauty, the liturgical service set from the chapel of the Madonna del Voto in the Cathedral of Siena is made of rock crystal and mounted on silver, embellished by translucent enamels. Created in the mid 17th century by order of pope Alexander VII Chigi, these furnishings constitute a masterpiece of goldsmithing art for the extreme refinement of the intaglios and decorations, as well as for the perfection of the technique employed in their making. Also tied to pope Chigi is the splendid Golden Rose, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, which Alexander VII donated to the Cathedral of Siena in 1658.

The three rooms on the top floor mainly house the rich collection of paintings on wood and canvas with sacred subjects, which come from the Cathedral and can be dated between the 13th and 19th centuries.

The first room mainly houses paintings on wood with gold background. Here you'll find the Madonna of the Large Eyes, one of the most ancient paintings of the Sienese school, authored by the Master of Tressa in the second quarter of the 13th century. Before the Battle of Monteaperti (September 4, 1260), the people of Siena assembled in front of the painting to raise a prayer entrusting the city to the Virgin. Also worthy of attention is the large polyptych by Gregorio di Cecco, portraying the Madonna of Humility (1423), which comes from the Altar of the Visitation in the Cathedral, and the two large paintings of the Sermons of Saint Bernardino executed by Sano di Pietro in the 1440s. The room is further embellished by two sculptures in painted wood of an extraordinary intensity: the Crucifix (1280) by Giovanni Pisano, considered among the artist's most touching and dramatic achievements, and the Lamentation over the Dead Christ (1421) by Alberto di Betto.

The second room, known as the Alfieri Room, hosts works that represent various periods and styles. The left wall presents the beautiful altarpieces by Matteo di Giovanni: the Madonna Enthroned with Saint Anthony and Saint Bernardino (1460) comes from the Baptistery, while the Madonna Enthroned with Four Saints and Angels (1480) comes from the Celsi Altar in the Cathedral. The most original works in the room include the panel painting of Saint Paul Enthroned by Domenico Beccafumi (dated 1516), accompanied by the elegant pair of works in polychrome terracotta portraying the Annunciating Angel and the Virgin Annunciate that he executed around 1545. Quite noteworthy are the two paintings on canvas by Luca Giordano - Christ before Pontius Pilate and Deposition from the Cross - which were received in exchange for the famous Annunciation by Simone Martini, originally on the altar of Saint Ansanus in the Cathedral of Siena, and today housed in the Uffizi Gallery of Florence. In the middle of the room is a vexillum, a processional banner that the Lay Society of the Young Saint John and Saint Januarius commissioned from Rutilio Manetti and Francesco Rustici between 1616 and 1622. The paintings respectively portray the Sermon of the Baptist and the Baptism of Christ.

The production of the 19th century, hosted in the Room of Tapestries, which is completely lined with wall hangings from the 17th century, is illustrated by large drawings for the mosaics on the spires in the facade of the Cathedral, executed in 1878 by painters Luigi Mussini and Alessandro Franchi. The showcases along the walls contain an important collection of textiles from the cathedral, while the one in the middle of the room holds the precious Chasuble from Lucca, made of jasper between the 11th and 13th centuries.

As of 1996, the Church of San Niccolò in Sasso was annexed to the Museo dell'Opera. This church is one of the most characteristic examples of the Sienese Baroque style, and was the place of worship for the nuns of the neighboring Convent of Monna Agnese. On the church's altars are paintings from the first half of the 17th century by artists such as Francesco Vanni, Rutilio Manetti, Astolfo Petrazzi, Raffaello Vanni, and Niccolò Tornioli. The vault is decorated with a fresco cycle depicting Stories of the Virgin, dated 1642, by Giovan Battista Giustamminani, known as ‘Francesino'.

Prices

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