The Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art (MuDAS) is located in the small square behind the bell tower of the San Donato Cathedral in Arezzo. The museum exhibits spiritual art. The collection covers the period from the 12th to the 19th century.
Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art Arezzo
Address: Piazza del Duomo, 1 – Arezzo. Telephone: 0575 4027268. Opening times: From 10.00 till 18.00 (Sundays and holidays from 13.30 till 18.00). Entrance fee: 6 Euros; disabled, children between 6 and 18 years old and families with at least four paying visitors:4 Euros; children under 6: Free. The ticket includes a visit to the Palazzo Vescovile.
History and description
The museum was inaugurated in 1963, with the intention of highlighting ecclesiastical art in the Diocese of Arezzo.
The rooms on the second floor house a pinacotheque, sixteenth-century frescoes by local artist Teofilo Torri, and the papal apartment where Pope John Paul II stayed during his visit to Arezzo in 1992.
The museum’s complete collection consists of paintings, frescoes , statues, jewelry and sacred documents, all from a period ranging between the 12th and late 19th centuries. It also has a collection of prestigious gold jewelry and sacred vestments.
The core of the collection is formed by a number of objects collected for the historical exhibition of sacred art held in the city in 1950 on the occasion of the 900th anniversary of the death of Guido Monaco. Guido Monaco, who is better known as Guido of Arezzo, was a monk, who, however, is most famous as the inventor of today’s musical notation.
Most of the artwork comes from the city’s Cathedral and other churches in the area.
Represented artists include Luca Signorelli, Bartolomeo della Gatta and Vasari.
What to see
Peace of Siena
On of the sacred vestments is the famous “Peace of Siena” (Pace di Siena). One side of this vestment depicts a dead Christ carried by angels, while the other side shows the Madonna Addolorata (“Our Lady of Sorrows”). It is a French work from the 15th century, decorated with gold, enamel, precious stones and pearls. The vestment was a gift from Pope Pius II Piccolomini to the Cathedral of Siena, which in turn donated it to the Cathedral of Arezzo in 1799, during the anti-French uprisings.
Another highlight is formed by three 12th and 13th century crucifixes whose original colors are still partly visible. The oldest of the three dates back to 1179.
Of course there are also several works by Vasari. There is a large banner from 1549 that was made for the Compagnia dei Peducci and consists of two canvases. The first depicts the “Sermon of John the Baptist” and the second the “Baptism of Jesus.” There is also a round silk tondo depicting the °Mother of God of Grace” which originally belonged to a canopy. The predella with “Events from the Life of David” comes from the no longer existing San Rocco Church. The table that the predella was part of is on display in the Medieval and Modern Art Museum.
Of particular interest is the freestanding fresco, painted in 1480, depicting “Saint Jerome” and painted by Bartolomeo della Gatta.
Other local artists represented are Andrea di Nerio and the better known Spinello Aretino. A number of works by the neoclassical painter Pietro Benvenuti are also on display.
There is a strikingly large terracotta from 1432, attributed to Bernardo Rossellino.
The “Christ in the House of Marta” was produced around 1575 by Santi di Tito, an important painter during the Counter-Reformation.
Finally, some paintings on wood by Domenico Pecori, a predella by Signorelli and four glazed terracotta figurines by Della Robbia need to be mentioned.