Meet Angelo Tartuferi

Meet Angelo Tartuferi, a born and bred Florentine, renowned art specialist and director of the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence 

by Fiona Scott Lazarreff, 23 February 2015

The Galleria dell’Accademia, or Accademia Gallery, is undoubtedly most famous for its sculptures by the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo, namely his Prisoners (or Slaves), his St. Matthew and, above all, his magnificent statue David. There are also works by great Italian artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto, Alessandro Allori and Orcagna. Finally, the most recent addition to the Galleria is a display of musical instruments including two violins by Antonio Stradivari.

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Angelo Tartuferi, a born and bred Florentine and renowned specialist of the 13th century has been “director” of the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence since 2013.   

“Under the current system used by the heritage and culture administration, the director is named by the Superintendent. But very soon, new legislation will be enacted, and the system will change. So right now, I’m waiting to see what my title will be under the new system”,  he explains.

Being a little perplexed about this new system, I ask him if he can explain what the benefits of the new system might be. “Museums will become economically independent. They will probably develop along the same lines as the big European and American museums. The major change that will happen through the new legislation is that we will be able to keep our revenues, - in our case about €6 million a year, but of course, we will have to take care of the costs of restoration and maintenance. Luckily, the Galleria dell’Accademia had around 1.4 million visitors in 2014, making it the third most-visited museum in Italy.

Later he enlarges on the new system when we talk about acquisitions. He says that it will “depend on the budget, but with the new legislation hopefully there will be more money.”

Last year the museum acquired a painting by Giovanni Toscani, (attributed to Masaccio) at a cost of €250,000.


Tartuferi has had an interesting and varied career: “I started out in the Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), before moving to the Galleria dell’Accademia (where I work now) where I stayed for 10 years. I was then director of the Uffizi for seven years before coming back here.” 

As director I’m in charge of the exhibitions, events, publications, research, new displays, etc. and of course I have full responsibility for the collections. I have personally already curated a  few different exhibitions: some in my first round as director here, and two or three since I have been back: in the year 2000 I curated a spectacular exhibition dedicated to Giotto di Bondone (the most important exhibition of the modern age that took place in 1937). Later we organised an exhibition about Lorenzo Monaco. We have lots of work by this great painter at the Galleria. We also had an exhibition on Florentine painting and sculpture in the century of Dante Alighieri that took place at the Galleria dell’Accademia in 2004. Usually the exhibitions are chosen among the pieces that we have in our permanent collection.”


Since I arrived in Florence a couple of days ago, I have been astonished by the massive number of foreign tourists, especially Chinese visitors who seem to view most of Florence’s sights and masterpieces via a smart-phone or camera, so I ask Tartuferi if he thinks they really understand and appreciate what they are capturing. “Well, I don’t think it’s so important, if for the moment, they truly understand the deep meaning of our art or not. It’s good that they come here and they observe, explore and at least get in contact with this different world of history and art: Michelangelo’s David is one of the major symbols of western civilisation. Tourism is made of different levels, different steps, some tourists are real specialists and cultured, and come well-prepared. Anyway, a museum like this is very much geared to the general public, even to the simple people who have heard of David by Michelangelo and want to see it once in a lifetime. The city has changed a lot over the last few years: a lot more tourists, but that’s a good thing for us! That’s our destiny, what we survive on!”

“And what about the local Florentine people?”, I ask, having had a problem identifying more than a handful. “Paradoxically,” he explains, “the most famous Florentine museums such as the Museum of the Bargello, the Uffizi, the Pitti, The Academy Gallery, etc. are much better known by foreign tourists and even Italians from other cities rather than by the Florentines themselves. The recent decision to continue with free admission on the first Sunday of every month has brought and will continue to bring more local visitors to the museums.”


*Mr. Tartuferi was director of the Galleria dell'Accademia from 2013 until 2015. In May 2020, he was nominated as Director of the Museo di San Marco in Florence.