The Uffizi Gallery, one of Italy’s most famous galleries, has taken a radical approach to showcasing its precious artworks by taking them on tour across Tuscany. The Uffizi Diffusi project is bringing art to museums in towns associated with famous artworks to highlight the work in a local context. The first stop is the island of Elba to celebrate Napoleon's bicentenary.

Located adjacent to the historic Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Uffizi Gallery houses masterpieces by artists like Michelangelo, Botticelli, da Vinci, Correggio, Raffaello and Caravaggio as part of its Renaissance art collections, and is among the world’s greatest and most-visited art destinations.

Now it's sharing some of its treasures in a cool new art tourism project called Uffizi Diffusi (Italian for "scattered Uffizi"). Some of its artworks will travel to as many as 100 sites across the greater Tuscany region, with the pieces having a local connection to the museum or area where they're on display, providing the gallery with an opportunity to showcase work that's currently in storage facilities to the greater public.

Detail of a corridor at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence
The Uffizi Diffusi project will see some artworks on view at art museums outside Florence © trabantos/Shutterstock

At an earlier press conference Uffizi Gallery director, Eike Schmidt, said that the project will showcase the artworks in their local context, and will turn the spotlight on various parts of the cultural history of Tuscany, encouraging tourists to explore more of the region and take the heat off Florence, which was among the Italian cities struggling with overtourism pre-pandemic.

The first stop on the tour is Elba, the Tuscan island where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to from May 1814 until February 1815, for the exhibition Nel Segno di Napoleone (In the name of Napoleon) at the Pinacoteca Foresiana gallery in Portofferaio. Coming to life just in time for the bicentenary of Napoleon's death, the exhibition opened on July 9 and will run until October 10, 2021, showcasing artwork associated with the military and political leader including canvas, marble and porcelain portraits.

"Thanks to this initiative, we will be able to enjoy the treasures of the Uffizi that would otherwise have remained unknown to us and at the same time learn more about a key figure in the history of modern Europe like Napoleon Bonaparte, who had a deep bond with Tuscany," said Eugenio Giani, president of the Tuscany region.

The other destinations in the Uffizi Diffusi project have yet to be revealed but in the meantime, the Uffizi Gallery is still welcoming guests to its Florence base under COVID-19 rules.

This article was first published on March 3 and updated on July 14, 2021.

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This article was first published Mar 5, 2021 and updated Jul 15, 2021.

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