Sunday, December 30, 2007

Galleria del Costume

For some reason the lines have been incredible at all the major museums for the past few days. It seems like it is largely Italians vacationing. Today the line to get into the Pitti Palace (main entrance) was about 25 minutes long. We walked up the street a little and went in an entrance closer to Porta Romana and just walked right in. The slow point at the main entrance is the security check. Besides the main entrance at the Pitti Palace, there are three other entrances that we know of. One on the same street the main entrance is on but closer to the Porta Romana. One just outside the Porta Romana. One near the Forte Belvedere.

We walked the gardens for about 1 hour and then visited the Galleria del Costume inside the Pitti Palace. The museum is in a nice set of rooms in the southern part of the palace. You can get to the museum entry in two ways. From the main courtyard climb the huge stairs and follow the signs. Or from outside (in the garden) head to the southernmost part of the palace where there is a set of doors (not particularly well-marked).

We both liked the museum. I took us about an hour and a half to see it, reading everything. It definitely is not like the smaller museums where you can stop and talk to the people “watching” the rooms and there is definitely a larger volume of people flowing through. However, we still thought it was interesting and worth a visit. The collection spans the 18th - 20th centuries. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the rooms that the fashions are in as well. Two things that stood out for us:

  • A collection of buttons that are a temporary exhibit (11 dic 2007 – 27 apr 2008). It is called “Appesi a un filo. Buttoni all Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti.” “Appesi a un filo. Buttoni…” translates to: Hanging by a thread, buttons… An Italian fellow, Alberto Riva (? – 1924) collected 2,900 buttons from the 18th to the 20th century. Most of the buttons on display were from the 19th century and were for men’s clothes as that’s what most buttons were used for at that time. The buttons run the gamut from simple to complex, stamped metal, precious stones, painted, carved, and even little dioramas under glass. I kept wondering about the person who collected these buttons? What was he like?

  • The clothes that Eleonora di Toledo (1522-1562), her son Don Garzia (1547-1562), and her husband Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519-1574) were buried in. Both Eleonora and her son Don Garzia died of malaria within days of each other. Their coffins along with other Medicis were opened in 1857 and it was discovered that most had been broken into and valuables stolen. They were again opened in 1947 and again in 2005 for examination. In one of the last times the coffins were opened (not sure when), they removed and reconstructed the clothes they were buried in (what was left of them). It was a bit surreal.


  1. I stumbled across this blog while searching for a specific Eleonora di Toledo portrait, and I saw your comments about her burial clothes. Just wanted to fill in:

    As you write, the first examinations of the graves were done in 1857. At this point they only examined the content to try and establish exactly who were in the graves and to see the conditions of the remains. Alas, the clothes were left in the coffins after examinations. They were photographed in the late 1960s, but first removed in the early 1980s, when they were in poor condition.

    Eleonora's clothes were the first ones to be restored, as Janet Arnold wanted to include it in her (then) new "Patterns of Fashion" book. Don Garzia's clothes were properly restored in 1991, ditto for Cosimo I's clothes, I think. The restored clothes were first presented in the book "Moda alla corte dei Medici" in 1993. They might have worked further on them garbs after that, but the main work was done in the early 1990s.

    There are some awesome photos of them online, here:

  2. Wow, awesome photos. Thanks for the corrections and clarifications. I hadn't thought about this subject in a while and reading your comment brought me back to the dimly lit room when we first saw the garments.


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