MIA, Italian gallery partner to bring rare Italian Renaissance art pieces to Minneapolis

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Some of the most magnificent art masterpieces in history are on display in Minneapolis—but only for a limited time.

Thanks to a rare partnership between the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, work from the famous artist Sandro Botticelli is on display—and many of the pieces haven’t left Italy before now.

Botticelli is known as one of the great geniuses of the Italian Renaissance and painted for the Popes. His work covers the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

“Sandro Bortticelli was one of the great geniuses of the Italian Renaissance. He lived from 1445 to 1510. He spent most of his career in Florence because it was one of the great artistic centers in Italy in that period,” said Rachel McGarry, the Chair of European Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

The gallery is named “Renaissance”—which means rebirth—and museum officials say it’s also symbolic of the current period of time we’re living in.

“We wanted to do a major exhibition to come out of COVID. We wanted to have something for our audiences that is very special,” added McGarry.

The current director of the Uffizi was a curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Art before landing that job in Italy. During the pandemic, the Institute’s director decided they needed something big, so they reached out to their friend in Italy.

“The Uffizi is one of the greatest art museums in Europe, or in the world. It’s got the best collection of Florentine Renaissance art and the exhibition is about Renaissance art. So, we’re really lucky to have partnered with them,” said McGarry.

If it weren’t for that connection, the art likely never would have made it to Minneapolis.

In order to protect the art, there is no natural light in the exhibit. The art is also kept under a glazing that filters out ultraviolet light.

“These drawings can only be shown for three months every five years, and then they have to go back into dark storage because even just visible light will possibly fade the drawings over time,” says McGarry.

Along with several paintings, the exhibit also displays three of his master drawings, which are incredibly rare.

If you want to see the exhibit, it will be in Minneapolis through Jan. 8.