The Pinacoteca Nazionale
It was ten in the morning.
After cookies and tea for breakfast, I left my host family’s lofty apartment and stepped out onto Via Stalloreggi. I walked down the narrow medieval streets, pressed to their edges as morning traffic came through, and arrived at my destination within minutes: the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena. I was there on assignment - as a Museum Studies student (the only one this semester), I must visit a new Sienese museum weekly and write a critique on it. As an Art History major who adores museums, this is the opposite of a problem.
Siena was very important to the Italian Renaissance, particularly at its origins in the late 13th and early 14th century (beyond that, the art of Florence took prominence). Artists like Duccio di Buoninsegna, Simone Martini, and the brothers Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti were major innovators who contributed to the development of Renaissance art. The Pinacoteca Nazionale houses many of these prominent early works, as well as paintings from the later periods of Mannerist and Baroque art. Standing in front of works by these artists, whom I’ve studied often in college courses, was surreal.
After spending a few hours soaking up all the gold leaf of the Pinacoteca’s many altarpieces, I left for my afternoon Italian class. A few hours later, in my course on art history, my professor lectured on some of the very same works I had just seen that same morning. I immediately understood the immense, yet difficult to describe, value of seeing art in person: these pieces seemed more real and important than ever before. I couldn’t help but grin ear to ear. This is the reason I studied abroad.
Museum Studies Student