Situated in the heart of Florence, the museum is a homage to the city where Gucci’s story began.
Admission is 6 Euros (Thursdays from 8pm reduced to 4€) 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.
The Gucci Museo Donation Project
As a brand synonymous with craftsmanship and heritage, it is no surprise that Gucci feels a strong affinity with the world-renowned arts of Florence, the city in which the House was born.
To this end the Gucci Donation Project – launched at the time the museum was founded in 2010 – sees Gucci Museo donate 50% of all revenue generated from ticket sales to the City of Florence -approximately 340,000 euros- with the aim of preserving the city’s internationally famous artworks.
The first venture in this laudable mission is the restoration of a series of spectacular 16th century tapestries which formerly hung in the Sala dei Duecento, or Hall of the Two Hundred, a space located in the oldest part of the Palazzo and originally designed to hold meetings of the 200 member-strong Citizen Council.
The Gucci Museo Donation Project
Commissioned by Cosimo dei Medici in 1545 the tapestries, which took a decade to complete, are a showcase of the best of Renaissance art, woven by the finest Flemish weavers whose skills brought to life vibrant scenes depicted by eminent Florentine painters Bronzino and Pontorno.
The tapestries narrate the story of Giuseppe Ebreo – he of the famed coat of many colours – and relate cautionary tale that contemplates the universal and timeless themes of human existence: love, jealousy, envy, faith, passion and forgiveness are all portrayed in scenes filled with drama and heart-stopping beauty.
In 1983 unfavourable conditions, which threatened the integrity of the tapestries, led to their removal from the Sala dei Duecento. Thanks to assistance from the Gucci Donation Project the ten masterpieces have recently been restored in the Palazzo Vecchio restoration laboratory by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, a public institute of the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and a global leader in the field of art restoration.
With so much to see and do at the Gucci Museum it’s safe to say that our visitors always enjoy a stimulating experience.
So when it comes to a little downtime and a chance to share what you’ve seen with friends, or contemplate in pleasurable solitude the wonders that the Museum has to offer, where better to head than the Dehors space?
Located just outside the Museum, with stunning views over the Piazza della Signoria, this urban oasis offers a moment of calm. Under airy canopies which encourage a light breeze even on the hottest of days, relax with an aromatic Italian coffee, savor a crisp cool glass of wine or, from 9am to 11pm, indulge in a delicious light lunch or a flavorsome dinner made our top chefs using only the best local ingredients.
And with everything from chairs to tableware showcasing Gucci’s commitment to refined style, we guarantee that a trip to this space will be icing on the cake of your time in Florence.