Is the Accademia Gallery worth it? There’s the Uffizi which frankly has a bigger and better collection, there’s the replica of Michelangelo’s David standing in its original location in the Piazza della Signoria, and there are all those queues to negotiate and tickets to buy. It may seem pointless to see yet another museum in Florence, but yes, you still should visit the Accademia Gallery.
For starters, the building oozes atmosphere. It was the first drawing school in Europe, and being granted entrance to it and to the Arti del Disegno back in the Renaissance meant you had proven your worth as a painter so you could get the good commissions and be able to make your living. This was a privilege earned, and generally only granted to men. Luckily times have moved on.
Inside the actual gallery – which was opened in a converted convent only in the late 18th century as a place for the students to see great art of the past – you have the delight of seeing some of this creative practice in action: there are several unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo and plaster casts and copies of sculptures by other artists. Michelangelo was famous for going to Carrara in northern Tuscany to choose his marble (the quarries are still there and active today) and he spoke of releasing the sculpture from inside the rock. In his unfinished works you can see the process in action.
Of course the piece de resistance that gets so many people in the doors is the original of David. Its sheer scale is quite overwhelming and imposing; no wonder it worked as a symbol of the power of Florence. There are most often very long queues to get in and booking tickets in advance or joining a tour group to skip the lines is advisable.