The Uffizi surpassed the Colosseum for number of visitors in 2021, in what was a first for the famous Florentine museum complex, which also includes Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens. The annual ranking was compiled by the Giornale dell'Arte art magazine and The Art Newspaper.
The total number of visitors in 2021 at the Uffizi were approximately 1.7M, almost 100,000 more than those at the Colosseum, which ranked second (the Colosseum was consistently for many years the most visited monument in Italy, including in 2020, the pandemic year).
The number refers to visitors to the Uffizi Gallery, home to such masterpieces as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera, Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo, Leonardo’s Annunciation and Adoration of the Magi, to cite just a few; as well as to the Boboli Gardens and the four museums comprised within Pitti Palace (the Palatine Gallery, the Treasury of the Grand Dukes, the Museum of Costume and Fashion and the Gallery of Modern Art).
In third place is the Archeological Park of Pompeii, which also registered more than one million visitors, followed by the Galleria dell’Accademia, also in Florence, and the Reggia di Caserta, with less than 500,000 visitors.
For the first time the Uffizi also beat the Vatican Museums, which, however, are technically not in Italy, but in the Vatican state.
In addition, the Uffizi attracted the largest number of visitors also to its special exhibitions last year; for example, the event dedicated to contemporary artist Giuseppe Penone, known for his large-scale sculptures of trees, was very successful, as was Leo X back to Florence at Pitti Palace, linked with the closing of Raphael's celebrations in 2020.
Some attribute the success of the Uffizi complex to the changes implemented by Uffizi director Eike Schmidt, who has said the positive numbers are the result of a “team effort,” commenting that “We are back on an upward trajectory that bodes well for the future.”
Besides giving space to contemporary art in what is considered the sacred temple of Renaissance art, Schmidt has arranged exhibitions on female artists and artists from under-represented groups. Under his direction, the Uffizi has also implemented a new ticketing system, resumed works from storage to put them on display, launched the Uffizi Diffusi initiative to lend some of its art to museums across Tuscany and opened previously closed rooms and sections within the Uffizi and Pitti Palace.
Meanwhile, the ‘free entry on first Sunday of the month’ event was back after the halt due to the pandemic and it was another record for the Uffizi, which registered it as the most popular weekend since 2019.