It’s easy to be overwhelmed inside a museum. There’s a lot to look at and nowhere is that more evident than at the Uffizi in Florence. This is the mother of museums that was already well on its way to being world class when the Louvre and National Gallery were just figments of royal imagination.
Visiting a place like this isn’t easy. There’s a lot to see and our eyes are no longer accustomed to seeing it. Today society is saturated with images and we’ve forgotten how to look. We may view hundreds if not thousands of images everyday but that doesn’t mean we’re any good at understanding and appreciating what we’re seeing.
That wasn’t always the case. Back when things couldn’t be deleted so easily our educated ancestors (a small group indeed) observed paintings much longer than our distracted modern selves. There was far less to look at which meant every image that was painstakingly created had far greater importance.
The paintings on the walls of the Uffizi haven’t changed. What has changed is how they are seen. Very few visitors are capable of decoding the images and receiving the messages that each painting communicates. We’ve lost that ability and substituted it with others which is why entering the Uffizi is like entering a visual time capsule. It tells of a Renaissance world we have trouble imagining.
This is not meant to dishearten visitors. This is meant as a warning of what to expect and the approach to take. Visiting the Uffizi requires stamina and patience. It is not about window shopping or crossing something off a bucket list. It is about gaining insight into humanity and what great artists are capable of achieving.
Expect to be challenged, confused, and amazed. Don’t hesitate to sit down and refresh the eyes, to ask the knowledgable staff why wood was favoured to canvas and above all else to learn about art and what it represents to you. It’s a long journey down long corridors that should never be rushed by the crush of fellow visitors or the magnetic attraction of Botticelli, Michelangelo, da Vinci and Caravaggio. Every room offers its own splendour and every painting deserves to be seen with absolution attention.