Museo Horne in Florence

Search for Hotels, Farmhouses, B&Bs and Holiday Homes on Booking.com

Museo Horne, a Renaissance house in Florence

The Museo Horne in Florence is a little known museum that almost always remains excluded from the classic tour itineraries. This is a shame because it is a museum of considerable historical and artistic interest that boasts a collection of great value. The museum is housed in an ancient Renaissance palace (known as Palazzo Corsi) located in Florence in via de’ Benci 6, at the corner of Corso Tintori, a stone’s throw from the Basilica of Santa Croce.

According to an initial reconstruction, the building was designed by Giuliano da Sangallo but, according to other scholars, the architect responsible for the project would be Simone del Pollaiolo known as il Cronaca. In any case, we are talking about great names in the history of Renaissance architecture.

Museo Horne Florence
Museo Horne Florence (Photo by Sailko / CC BY)

Herbert Percy Horne

Over the years his property passed first to the Alberti and then to the Corsi, then to the Fossi and, finally, to Herbert Percy Horne, an art collector and English art historian, from whose immense collection of thousands of pieces the same comes to life. museum today. A scholar of Renaissance art and especially of Botticelli’s paintings, Horne bought the building in 1912 and completely renovated it at his expense.

His goal was to restore its rooms, the facade and the entire structure to the appearance it must have had in the most splendid years of the Renaissance, with the addition of antiques for everyday use and original pieces of furniture. On his death in 1916, he donated both the palace and its collections to the Italian State. A special foundation was then established to administer and enhance this heritage. This is how the Museo della Fondazione Horne was born in 1921.

In other words, the history of Horne is that of the great English collecting of the late nineteenth century. In those years, many British citizens settled in a Florence threatened by the so-called “Risanamento“, a period in which the historic center underwent severe changes, not always appreciable.

Horne’s work was extremely meticulous: he recreated a work area on the ground floor complete with a warehouse; on the first floor, or the noble floor, the main apartments were located; the kitchens were placed on the second floor (where they were usually placed to prevent fumes and bad smells from crossing the buildings, disturbing the delicate nostrils of the gentlemen) and the rooms dedicated to servants.

The Museo Horne in Florence

On Horne’s death, the collection was reorganized in the museum of the same name, which unfortunately was badly damaged during the 1966 flood: its location, in fact, in one of the lowest areas of the city, made him the victim of an attachment that forced him to closed for ten years. It took another twenty for him to say he was in the same condition before the disaster.

The former Palazzo Corsi is notable for its two symmetrical facades, with two floors of four windows each and ashlar decoration; the dimensions are not considerable but the quality of the façades is extremely high, with very accurate proportions for the internal volumes and stone ornaments of notable beauty.

The collection of the Horne Museum

The interior of the building houses the Horne museum and its collection, in environments that perfectly replicate the furnishings of the Renaissance: among tables, chests, richly decorated chests, ceramics, original kitchen utensils and many collections of small everyday objects ( cards, coins, seals), one really has the impression of a dip in the past of six centuries.

The real milestone of the museum is Giotto’s Santo Stefano, but the collection of antique paintings that H. P. Horne managed to acquire from the end of the nineteenth century until his death also includes works by Filippo Lippi, Bernardo Daddi, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti, Dosso Dossi, Antonio Rossellino, Jacopo Sansovino, Agnolo di Polo, Jacopo del Sellaio, Luca Signorelli, Pietro di Giovanni d’Ambrosio, Niccolò di Segna, Piero di Cosimo, Desiderio da Settignano, Bartolomeo Ammannati, Lorenzo di Credi, Carlo Dolci, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Domenico Beccafumi, Giambologna and a very precious table by Masaccio: the pieces on display are over six thousand.

After the flood, the works most at risk for their conservation (such as the collection of drawings from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) were transferred to the Uffizi Gallery.

Museum activities, events and exhibitions

The Horne Museum offers its visitors numerous activities and events. The Museum’s Educational Service offers thematic itineraries, dedicated creative and multimedia workshops, activities for schools and initiatives designed for families. On the official website of the museum you can find a calendar of events with scheduled guided tours and many other proposals. In the past, the Horne Museum has also hosted temporary exhibitions such as the one entitled “From Raphael to Rubens” in 2000 and the one on drawings dedicated to portraits and figure studies in 2011.

For all information on visiting hours and tickets but also to book a guided tour, here is the link to the official website.

Search for Hotels, Farmhouses, B&Bs and Holiday Homes on Booking.com