The fourteenth century building of Orsanmichele, built on the spot where the oratory of San Michele in Orto once stood as wheat warehouse, soon became a representative and religious building thanks to the generosity of the Guilds, which decorated it between the 14th and 16th century with extraordinary sculptures and paintings.
Today, the whole building is a museum on its own. The two rooms above the church, on the first and second floors, were reopened to the public in 1996 with the aim of exhibiting and preserving works that could no longer be left on the building's façade and of additionally displaying all the works that had been explicitly commissioned for Orsanmichele and had been disseminated due to various reasons.
The first floor currently exhibits eight of the fourteen statues or groups of statues, in bronze or marble, which once adorned the niches dedicated to the Guilds on the outside of the building. The second floor displays the forty small stone sculptures representing the Saints and Prophets originally installed on the top of the columns that divide the windows with three lights and the doors.
A great visual impact, inside the typically Gothic setting, is offered by the exhibition of the large statues on a platform. These were originally located in the external niches and have now been restored. The statues include extraordinary Renaissance masterpieces, commissioned by the Florentine Guilds, like "St. Mark" of Donatello, "The Disbelief of St. Thomas" of Verrocchio, together with "St. John the Baptist" of Ghiberti, "Sant'Eligio" and "St. Philip" of Nanni di Banco. The group also comprises the statues of "St. Jacob, St. Peter and the Madonna of the" rose respectively attributed to Niccolò di Pietro Lamberti, Bernardo Ciuffagni and Pietro di Giovanni Tedesco.
The museum has yet to be completed. The statues that are still located on the outside of the building are still waiting to be restored and replaced with copies, like the others already displayed inside the museum.
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