The Bargello National Museum in Florence (Museo Nazionale del Bargello) holds the largest collection of Gothic and Renaissance sculptures in Italy.
The museum is housed in one of the oldest public buildings in Florence, the Palazzo del Podestà. Its construction began in 1255 and it served as the official residence of the Podestà, the governing magistrate. In 1574 the Medici decided to use the Palazzo to house the police chief of Florence, called the bargello, the origin of the museum’s name.
In 1859 it was decided that the Palazzo del Podestà was to be restored and should house a museum documenting the history and the arts of Tuscany. The Bargello National Museum opened its doors in 1865, the year in which Florence became the capital of Italy (which it remained until 1871). The collection included important Renaissance sculptures, including masterpieces by Donatello, Luca della Robbia, Verrocchio, Michelangelo and Cellini.
Next to sculptures, the museum is also specialised in medieval decorative arts like majolica, waxworks, amber, ivory, gold and silverware, enamels, small bronzes, tapestries, furniture and textiles, most of them previously belonging to the Medici.