Why the Uffizi Gallery putting Renaissance masterpieces below (adult) eye level is a game changer

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Johann Zoffany (German, 1733–1810), The Tribuna of the Uffizi, 1772-7, oil on canvas, Royal Collection, London (Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)
Johann Zoffany (German, 1733–1810), The Tribuna of the Uffizi, 1772-7, oil on canvas, Royal Collection, London (Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)

Picture an art world. There are museums (public and private), galleries and fairs. There are artists, curators, gallerists, scholars, buyers, dealers, collectors, visitors, and journalists. Beyond the "Please don’t touch" rhetoric, are children a part of the consideration? 

In 2019, cultural theorist and journalist Bongani Madondo documented the trip he took to the Wit Arts Museum with his children for the Sunday Times. "Taking in the David Koloane retrospective at the Wits Arts Museum (WAM) with my children got me thinking about a few seemingly unrelated things," he said. Titled "Anyone can be a Rembrandt but galleries must become child-friendly", the column dissected the ways children are an afterthought in cultural institutions. 

Aware of the tier children occupy in the art world, the Uffizi Gallery recently developed a programme centred around their youngest visitors. Situated in the Historic Centre of Florence, adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria, in the region of Tuscany, the Uffizi is one of Italy’s most prominent museums.

Outside of the pandemic, in a year like 2019, the museum welcomed over 2.1 million visitors. According to The Art Newspaper, approximately 1 150 children visited the Uffizi Gallery in the same year. Although children did not make up much of the museum’s audience, by rebranding the reception of children, the gallery hopes to convince children and their guardians to make museum visits part of their everyday. 

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