In a city filled with artistic masterpieces, the San Marco Museum (Museo Nazionale di San Marco) has the distinction of being home to Florence’s largest collection of paintings by Fra Beato Angelico. The 15th-century former monastery is also home to works by Fra Bartolomeo, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Lorenzo Ghiberti.
The San Marco Museum is housed in a former Dominican convent that was restored by Michelozzo under Cosimo il Vecchio de' Medici, and is a well-preserved example of Florentine Renaissance architecture. The cloister, Pilgrims’ Hospice, Lavabo Room, Fra Bartolomeo Room, Chapterhouse, and dormitory cells are decorated with sacred frescoes by some of the most important artists in Florence at the time, including Fra Beato Angelico who was first a monk and later Prior of the monastery—highlights include his Annunciation, Crucifixion with Saints, and Noli me tangere; The Last Supper by Ghirlandaio; and the Signoria Altarpiece by Fra Bartolomeo. The complex also has a library containing a collection of historic illuminated manuscripts, as well as a modern convent library with books on philosophy and theology.
This is one of the most important collections of sacred art in Florence, so book a private museum tour with skip-the-line tickets ahead to avoid a long wait. Many Renaissance Florence walking tours also include a stop at the San Marco Museum.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The San Marco Museum is wheelchair accessible inside, but visitors need to request assistance to navigate the steps at the entrance.
- Large bags, backpacks, and umbrellas are not allowed inside.
- The museum is adjacent the Church of San Marco; if you plan on visiting the church, be sure to cover your shoulders and knees.
- There is a small bookshop inside the museum but no café.
How to Get There
The San Marco Museum is located on Piazza San Marco in the historic center of Florence, a short walk from Santa Maria Novella train station or the city’s famous Duomo.
When to Get There
The San Marco Museum has a tricky monthly schedule, as it is closed the 2nd and 4th Monday and 1st, 3rd, and 5th Sunday of each month. Check your calendar carefully, or plan to visit Tuesday through Saturday to avoid confusion.
San Marco’s Most Infamous Resident
San Marco was famous as the seat of Girolamo Savonarola, Dominican friar and outspoken religious reformer, during his short spiritual uprising in Florence in the late 15th century.