Situated in the heart of Florence, the museum is a homage to the city where Gucci’s story began.
Admission is 6 Euros with 50% of each ticket sale benefitting to help the City of Florence preserve and restore the city’s signature art treasures. The museum is open year-round, seven days a week, with closures planned only for August 15th, December 25th and January 1st.
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History of the building
Spread across three floors, and spanning a total of 1,715 square metres, the museum charts Gucci’s remarkable 90-year history, from its beginnings when, in the tradition of his 14th century forbears, founder Guccio Gucci made his name as a purveyor of finest quality leather accessories, to its present day status as one of the world’s leading luxury goods brands.
In creating a space that reflects Gucci’s ethos whilst remaining sensitive to the Palazzo’s architecture, a meticulous restoration of the building’s interior sees old and new blend seamlessly to create a harmonious whole. The modernist lines and minimal colour palette of the contemporary updates integrate seamlessly with original features such as vaulted ceilings, age-worn stonework and frescoes. On the ground floor a collection of crests belonging to the original guilds has been added to with Gucci’s own coat of arms, itself a 1950s homage to the House’s alleged descent from a line of Renaissance saddlers.
Following its restoration, the building comprises a series of rooms devoted to a thematic exploration of Gucci’s icons and milestones. Whilst the basement houses the Gucci Archive, the public displays located on the ground and upper floors of the building showcase Gucci’s prolific output across a multitude of design disciplines from sportswear and travel equipment to high fashion and jewellery.
Taken as a whole, the elegantly curated contents of the museum document the creative and cultural influence of the House’s remarkable heritage. Viewed within this context, the fact that a brand so synonymous with the Tuscan capital has found its home in one of the city’s most iconic buildings marks a fitting high point in the history of two of Florence’s greatest and best loved icons.
History of the building
From its vantage point overlooking the beautiful Piazza della Signoria in the heart of historical Florence, Gucci Museo’s location could scarcely be more auspicious, or apt.
The museum itself is housed within the Palazzo della Mercanzia, a building whose history is deeply entwined with that of Florence itself. Founded in 1308 on the site of an ancient Roman theatre, the Palazzo was originally established to support the trade guilds of the day. In serving the interests of the city’s cloth importers, wool manufacturers and silk weavers, the Palazzo became a powerful administrative base that did much to promote Florence’s emergence as one of the leading commercial and cultural centres of Renaissance Europe.
Over the centuries, a retinue of illustrious tenants, from high ranking government officials to members of the infamous Medici family, has taken up residence at Palazzo della Mercanzia. But its latest incarnation, as home to the Gucci Museo, is the one that enjoys greatest synergy with the Palazzo’s original purpose as a champion of Florentine art and craftsmanship.
In 1921, Guccio Gucci opened a leather goods company and small luggage store in his native Florence. Though his vision for the brand was inspired by London, and the refined aesthetic of English nobility he had witnessed while working in the Savoy Hotel, his goal on returning to Italy was to ally this classy sensibility with the unique skills of his native Italy. Specifically, with the master craftsmanship of local Tuscan artisans.
Within a few years, the label enjoyed such success the sophisticated international clientele on vacation in Florence thronged to Gucci’s bottega, seeking the equestrian-inspired collection of bags, trunks, gloves, shoes and belts. Many of Guccio’s Italian clients were local horse-riding aristocrats, and their demand for riding gear led Gucci to develop its unique Horsebit icon - an enduring symbol of the fashion house and its increasingly innovative design aesthetic.
Faced with a shortage of foreign supplies during the difficult years of Fascist dictatorship in Italy, Gucci began experimenting with atypical luxury materials, like hemp, linen and jute. One of its artisans’ most subtle innovations was burnishing cane to create the handle of the new Bamboo Bag, whose curvy side was inspired by a saddle’s shape. An ingenious example of “necessity as the mother of invention”, the bamboo became the first of Gucci's many iconic products. A favorite of royalty and celebrities alike, the bag with burnished handle remains a huge favorite today.
During the Fifties, Gucci again found equestrian inspiration with its trademark green-red-green web stripe, derived from a traditional saddle girth. It became an instant success and an instantly recognizable hallmark of the brand. Opening stores in Milan and New York, Gucci started to build its global presence as a symbol of modern luxury.
With the passing of Guccio Gucci in 1953, his sons Aldo, Vasco, Ugo and Rodolfo took over the business.
Gucci products quickly became renowned for timeless design and were cherished by iconic movie stars and figures of elegance in the Jet Set era. Jackie Kennedy carried the Gucci shoulder bag, which is known today as the Jackie O. Liz Taylor, Peter Sellers and Samuel Beckett sported the unstructured, unisex Hobo Bag. Gucci’s classic moccasin with Horsebit hardware became part of the permanent collection at the Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Gucci answers a personal request by Grace Kelly by creating the now famous Flora silk print scarf for the Monaco princess.
In the mid-60s, Gucci adopted the legendary interlocking double G logo, creating yet another chic Gucci visual insignia.
Gucci continued its expansion abroad with stores opening in London, Palm Beach, Paris and Beverly Hills.
Gucci continued its global expansion, true to the original aspirations of Aldo, and set its sights on the Far East. Stores opened in Tokyo and Hong Kong. The company developed its first ready-to-wear collections, featuring GG printed shirts or GG buttoned fur-trim coats.
The brand became famous for its unique mix of innovative audacity and legendary Italian quality and craftsmanship. Gucci icons were re-invented in new shapes or colors – burning the GG logo through suede - using ever more luxurious materials, mike baby crocodile coats with sterling silver snakehead buckles.
In 1977, its Beverly Hills flagship was revamped with a private Gucci Gallery, where privileged VIPs like Rita Hayworth or Michael Caine could browse for $10,000 bags with detachable gold and diamond chain or platinum fox bed throws.
In 1981 Gucci staged its first ever runway show in Florence.
In 1982, Gucci became a public limited company, and leadership passed to Rodolfo's son, Maurizio Gucci, who held 50 percent of the company’s shares. In 1987, Investcorp, a Bahrain-based investment company, began buying into Gucci, eventually competing the purchase all of the company’s shares in the early Nineties.
Gucci is re-launched to global renown through a groundbreaking mix of tradition and innovation. Tom Ford became creative director of Gucci in 1994 and infused the luxury brand with a sense of daring and provocation that resonated with celebrity and the fashion world. The stiletto, and silk cutout jersey dresses with metallic hardware details became instant icons of Ford's uniquely glamorous vision.
Domenico De Sole was appointed CEO in 1995, and Gucci made the highly successful transformation to a fully public company. Gucci is named "European Company of the year 1998" by the European Business Press Federation for its economic and financial performance, strategic vision and management quality. In 1999, Gucci entered into a strategic alliance with Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, transforming itself from a single brand company into a multi-brand luxury group.
Gucci achieved astounding global success and is named the most desirable luxury brand in the world (Nielsen company, 2007). Frida Giannini, formerly Creative Director of accessories, is appointed sole Creative Director in 2006. Exploring Gucci’s rich heritage and its incomparable craftsmanship capabilities, Giannini has created a unique vision for Gucci that fuses past and present; history and modernity. Key house icons are reinvented in a fresh new guise, including Flora, La Pelle Guccissima, the New Jackie, and the New Bamboo, as the house’s tradition for innovation accelerates under Giannini.
Gucci continues to focus on strengthening the values upon which its enviable reputation has been founded for its almost 90-year history: exclusivity, quality, made in Italy, Italian craftsmanship, and fashion authority. Setting it apart from its competitors, Gucci is able to claim a unique duality in its brand positioning pairing modernity and heritage, innovation and craftsmanship, trendsetting and sophistication.
At the beginning of the new decade, the Florentine House launched two relevant projects which are united by a common philosophy of respect and care towards others, values that have been part of Gucci’s DNA and that of its employees since the company was founded: a worldwide eco-friendly program to reduce its impact on the environment, and the launch of Gucci’s first children's collection, which further highlights the brand’s reputation for quality and relevance by being exclusively made in Italy.
Gucci Museo, a cultural center dedicated to Gucci's archives and contemporary art, presents CreaKids: four innovative educational itineraries and hands-on workshops inspired by the museum and its history, fashion and art based activities.
For information and reservations:
Tel: +39 055 7592 3302
The City Workshop takes children on a tour of Florence to discover the buildings, streets and churches that bear the signs of craftsmen from the major and minor guilds, whose skill and ingenuity made the city a major international capital of art, craftsmanship and commerce.
The tour ends inside the museum, which still bears the original coats of arms of the ancient court, and where the children will have the chance to create their own interpretation of one of the emblems.
Florario takes children to the enchanted gardens of legends and symbols of plants and flowers. From the best-known Renaissance artists to Andy Warhol, the richness of nature has always been expressed in artistic renderings, including paintings, sculptures and miniatures, at times hiding secret messages or cultural references.
Pupils will create their own "flower garden", based on the example of the extraordinary Flora scarf, created in 1966 by Vittorio Accornero for Grace Kelly and preserved at the Museo Gucci.
This workshop takes a historical look at clothing, examining its social significance through the iconography of major portraits and genre paintings from the 18th to the 20th century. Following a presentation in the workshop, the children will visit the museum for a close look at how a collection (inventions, materials and decorations) is born.
After the first hour of the "historic" workshop, we return to the workshop to create a suitcase (a cardboard cutout for assembly), decorating it with paper, felt pens, cardboard and tissue paper.
In the Feminine
Intended for secondary school students, as well as students of design academies and institutes, this workshop looks at the work of contemporary artists in this area. Society’s perception of women is a delicate and complex topic which has had well-known and even dramatic social consequences. We believe that this difficult subject can be explored effectively through an artistic and historic itinerary.
Many authors (male and especially female) have addressed these themes, from the first performances of Cuban exile Ana Mendieta (in the 1960s and 70s) to Vanessa Beecroft's performances, from the costumes of the feminine stereotype in the staged characters of Cindy Sherman to the militant manifestos of Barbara Kruger, from the Guerilla Girls to Frida Khalo, and many more.
"Forever Now" Exhibition in Sao Paulo
In celebration of the narrative behind today’s most iconic products and motifs, Gucci’s first temporary museum will open for three weeks in São Paulo’s JK Iguatemi mall on May 29th. The “Forever Now” exhibit will showcase rare archival pieces from the Gucci Museo, such as Bamboo, Flora, Made to Measure, Horsebit, Première and Travel. Visitors are invited to step inside a replica of the House’s Florentine museum and experience the history and evolution of Gucci.