No More Waiting in Line at the Uffizi?

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 04:35
Uffizi Galleries

Those seemingly endless lines outside the Uffizi Galleries in Florence? They soon may be gone. Uffizi director Eike Schmidt announced a new entry management system that will help eliminate the - by now legendary - Uffizi queues, where, during peak season, visitors have to wait from one to three hours to enter.

The new system was tested on Sunday, October 7, which coincided with the ‘Free Sunday at the Museum’ event, the initiative that allows free entrance to state museums the first Sunday of each month. And it seemed to work: 7,500 visitors showed up, yet no lines formed.  

“The system worked very well and it will soon be used every day,” said director Schmidt. “It is set to become the ordinary way to access the Uffizi.”

How does this new system work? When visitors arrive at the Uffizi, they will be issued a coupon printed by one of seven interactive kiosks located in the Uffizi courtyard. The coupon indicates the time of entry, meaning that when the visitor shows up at the entrance, he or she will be able to enter without waiting. The precise time is calculated on both the influx of visitors and on an algorithm obtained from a statistical model developed over two years of data collection, which takes into account visit duration and other elements. The system was developed in collaboration with L’Aquila University.

The algorithm - the heart of the system - allows to maximize the museum's capacity while respecting its structural constraints and to identify the exact time of entry to be assigned, based on the analysis of several pieces of information and on the comparison between historical data on visitors’ flow and various other parameters, including the weather, the time of day, the season (high or low), the number of tour groups. This way, the Uffizi explains, it is possible to begin the tour at the scheduled time, and visit other museums or walk around the city center in the meantime. The Sunday the system was tested there was a 62% increase in the number of visitors to Pitti Palace, which seemed to confirm the new system worked the way it was intended.

The Uffizi is one of Italy’s most visited cultural sites (2.2M visitors in 2017). The new system is expected to be implemented in full by next year.