The first collections of the institution were exhibited at the Fraternita dei Laici Museum from 1820, the year of its foundation, to 1935, when most of the art (archeology and science collections, and the library saved after the 1759 fire) was partly sent to the town Civic Museums.
Most of the works, about 6000 of them, including 100 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and ancient furnishings are still in the palace and represent the core of today’s exhibition.
The Museum is composed of the Quadreria, the Council Room and the Primo Rettore’s Room.
Besides the ancient works, the collection was completed around 1780 with the magnificent Gallery of Portraits, a series of effigies of grand dukes and benefactors who made the institution rich since the Middle Ages, including works by Pietro Benvenuti.
The Bartolini Collection, composed of drawings, prints, plaster casts and books, is named after its founder, the sculptor Ranieri Bartolini, who left it to the city of Arezzo after his death.
The collection features works by neoclassical artists such as Pietro Benvenuti, Luigi Sabatelli, Vicenzo Camuccini and many others. It also exhibits important drawings, such as the head of the Hilaritas by Georgio Vasari, preparatory for the frescoes of the Sala della Cancelleria in Rome.
The works of the Bartolini Collection are displayed in rotation as part of temporary exhibitions.
The most exciting part of the museum has to be the astronomical clock built in 1552 by the master clock-maker Felice di Salvatore da Fossato, which, almost five centuries later, still works. One of the rarest in Europe and the only one of its kind in Italy, the clock has exceptional historical value as well as being a masterpiece of mechanical engineering.
Thanks to skilled restoration works, the clock’s mechanism continues to function to this day, allowing the public to hear its strokes and tolls.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Museum is located in Piazza Grande, in the Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici. The closest bus station is Viale Buozzi Opp 5 – Prato, about 250 meters away.