The Polo Museale Fiorentino is an institution which administers the largest ensemble of art works in Italy.
It includes twenty museums varying in importance from the Uffizi Gallery to the Medici Villa of Cerreto Guidi, from the Accademia Gallery to the Cenacolo of Santa Apollonia. It employs over 900 persons (art historians, administrative staff and warders, restorers, photographers, librarians), is responsible for 250 thousand catalogued works of art, and receives over 5 million visitors each year.
The purpose of the Polo Museale is to care for the immense artistic heritage preserved in its museums, villas, historical gardens and conventual buildings, that has been handed down from the glorious past of the city of Florence and its territory; first and foremost from the Medici collections, and later added to by the Lorraine and Savoy rulers and finally by acquisitions made by the State from ecclesiastical and private collections.
The Polo Museale of Florence is part of the State administration of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage. It is run by a Superintendent, who is also a qualified art historian, in the person of Cristina Acidini.
This is one of the most famous museums of paintings and sculpture in the world. Its collection of Primitive and Renaissance paintings comprises several universally acclaimed masterpieces of all time, including works by Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio. German, Dutch and Flemish masters are also well represented with important works by Dürer, Rembrandt and Rubens.
The Uffizi Gallery occupies the top floor of the large building erected by Giorgio Vasari between 1560 and 1580 to house the administrative offices of the Tuscan State. The Gallery was created by Grand-duke Francesco I and subsequently enriched by various members of the Medici family, who were great collectors of paintings, sculpture and works of art. The collection was rearranged and enlarged by the Lorraine Grand-dukes, who succeeded the Medici, and finally by the Italian State.
The Uffizi buildings also house other important collections: the Contini Bonacossi Collection and the Collection of Prints and Drawings (Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi).
The Vasari Corridor, the raised passageway connecting the Uffizi with the Pitti Palace, was built by Vasari in 1565. It is hung with an important collection of 17th-century paintings and the famous collection of artists' Self-portraits.