The Galleria dell'Accademia, one of Florence's Top Museums, is home to the world famous statue of David by Michelangelo. The gallery is laid out on two floors, with its most significant works by Michelangelo on the ground floor.
What to See on the Accademia Ground Floor
Galleria dei Prigioni (Prisoners' Gallery) - Here you will find Michelangelo's Quattro Prigioni, which were originally sculpted for the tomb of Pope Julius II.
The Prisoners are so called because they appear to be trying to free themselves from the marble in which they are carved. Michelangelo died before he was able to complete the works. Other works in this gallery are Michelangelo's St. Matthew, which looks similarly "trapped" in marble, and paintings from Michelangelo's contemporaries, including Ghirlandaio and Andrea del Sarto.
Tribuna del David - David's Tribune is a lofty space, with ample room for visitors to move around the approximately 17 feet (4 meters) tall statue and see it from all angles. An especially noteworthy aspect to pay attention to is David's right hand, which is veined and tense in the moment before he slings his rock at Goliath. There are about a dozen works from 16th-century artists, such as Alessandro Allori and Bronzino, but all are overshadowed by Michelangelo's masterpiece.
Sala del Colosso - A copy of Giambologna's Rape of the Sabines, which is in Loggia dei Lanzi near the Piazza della Signoria, stands in the center of this room, while surrounding it are dozens of paintings of 15th and 16th century masters, including Filippino Lippi, Pietro Perugino, Lorenzo di Credi, Benozzo Gozzoli, Sandro Botticelli, and others.
Sala di Giotto - The influential 14th-century painter Giotto and his school, particularly Bernardo Daddi and Taddeo Gaddi, are represented in this room with small religious paintings, including Daddi's Crucifixion.
Sala del Duecento e del Primo Trecento - Next to the Sala di Giotto is a room with some of the earliest paintings from Tuscany.
The religious paintings date from between 1240 and 1340 and depict illuminated portraits of the Madonna, Saints, and a particularly lovely L'Albero della Vita (Tree of Life) by Pacino di Buonaguida.
Sala di Giovanni da Milano e degli Orcagna - In the same area as the Giotto and Duecento/Trecento rooms, this gallery contains altarpieces by Giovanni da Milano and the brothers di Cione, including Nardo di Cione and Andrea di Cione, also known as Andrea Orcagna (archangel), whose work is also in the Duomo.
Salone dell'Ottocento - Paintings and sculptures from the 19th century are on display here, including a large collection of plaster casts by Lorenzo Bartolini.
Department of Musical Instruments - This small gallery holds around 50 musical instruments from the private collections of the Tuscan Grand Dukes and the Medici. The instruments come from the Conservatorio Cherubini di Firenze and include among them a viola and a violin designed and played by the great Stradivarius.
What to See on the Top Floor of the Accademia
Sala del Tardo Trecento I and II - These two rooms on the top floor of the Accademia are comprised of several dozen altarpieces from the late 14th and early 15th centuries.
The highlights here include a Pieta by Giovanni da Milano; and Annunciation by the Stonemasons and Carpenters Guild, which had once decorated Orsanmichele; and a collaborative altarpiece depicting the Annunciation.
Sala di Lorenzo Monaco - Approximately one dozen paintings by Lorenzo Monaco, a Camaldolese monk/artist, are displayed in this room, as are works by Gherardo Starnina, Agnolo Gaddi, and a few others who were influenced by the International Gothic style.
Sala del Gotico Internazionale - The International Gothic style continues into the adjacent room, with paintings by Giovanni Toscani, Bicci di Lorenzo, Maestro di Sant'Ivo, and others.
Galleria dell'Accademia Visiting Information
Location: Via Ricasoli, 58-60
Hours: Tuesdays-Sundays, 8:15 am until 6:50 pm, Closed Mondays, January 1, May 1, December 25
Information: (+39) 055-2388-609
Admission: €6.50 (as of June 2014).
Note that the Accademia regularly holds special exhibits which may cost an additional fee.
Ticket Booking in Advance: Buying your tickets ahead is recommended yo avoid waiting in line or not getting in. You can book through the Accademia website or through Select Italy with payment in US dollars.