Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana
Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana is located right next to the Duomo. The museum is inside what was supposed to be the nave of the massive new Cathedral that was aborted after the plague of 1348 which claimed more than half of the city’s population, stands today as one of the oldest private museums established in Italy.
The Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana was founded in 1869 to preserve and display some of the great treasures of the Cathedral. The rooms on the ground floor display an important collection of 14th-century sculptures from the facade of the cathedral, made by Giovanni Pisano. The extraordinary marble statues of Sibyls, prophets, and philosophers of antiquity, sculpted by Pisano during his post as a master builder (1285-1297) of the Duomo, vibrate by the new way of sculpting applied by the artist, pervaded by dynamism and Gothic realism.
The lounge has also important works by two more important 15th-century artists. A bas-relief from the Chapel of St. Sebastian in the cathedral, depicting the Madonna and Child Enthroned and Cardinal Casini, by Jacopo della Quercia (1437-1438), and the Madonna of forgiveness’, created by the famous Donatello (ca. 1458) for the ancient door of forgiveness on the right side of the cathedral demolished towards 1660 to make way for the Chapel of Our Lady. Down the hall, since June 2004, is the amazing original Stained glass window made by Duccio for the eye apse of the cathedral.
On the first floor of the museum, we encounter the magnificent altarpiece created by Duccio di Buoninsegna, the absolute delight of the whole collection. The Italian pictorial art masterpiece of the early fourteenth century is also known as the Maestà (Majesty). The painting, made by the Master between 1308 and 1311, was visible from both sides and is one of the largest artistic achievements of all time, whereas more than forty figures are represented in the front face, and nearly eighty are presented in the stories at the back.
Next in line, is the Treasure Room, where more than two hundred ornaments linked to the sacred liturgy are displayed, among them special attention should be given to the Reliquary of St. Galgano, one of the most important works by the Sienese goldsmith, dated around the end of XIII century and the Reliquary of St. John’s arm, commissioned by Pope Pius II in 1466 to Francesco d’Antonio, after Thomas Palaeologus, a Byzantine exiled prince had entrusted to the pope the relic of the saint. Other invaluable pieces of the dazzling collection include the Reliquary of San Galgano and the Reliquary of Saint Clemens Martyr.
The second floor holds more treasures with a panel painting depicting St. Paul Enthroned painted by Domenico Beccafumi in 1516 deserving a special mention due to its unique manner. Finally, the museum gives access to a narrow terrace on top of the Facciatone that can offer breathtaking views of the surroundings.