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Past Exhibitions


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Michelangelo Public and Private: Drawings for the Sistine Chapel and Other Treasures from the Casa Buonarroti

Oct 15 2009 – Jan 31 2010

Seattle Art Museum

Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries

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This exhibition brings one of art history's greatest figures to Seattle for the first time. Drawn exclusively from the collection of the Casa Buonarroti in Florence, the show explores Michelangelo's complex personality and different aspects of his life and career. Centered around twelve original drawings by Michelangelo, the exhibition also features portraits of the artist, personal documents, and decorative arts from the Casa Buonarroti.

The primary focus of the exhibition is Michelangelo's preliminary work for the Sistine Chapel in Rome, including a selection of working drawings for the Sistine Ceiling and the Last Judgment. Together, these objects give modern viewers insight into the artist's working process, from sketches to finished studies. This exposure would have appalled Michelangelo, who burned many of his drawings hoping to sustain the idea that divine inspiration, not human labor, was responsible for his celebrated masterpieces.

The Casa Buonarroti was founded in 1612 by Michelangelo's great-nephew as a monument to his famous relative, on the site of the artist's former home. Housing original works of art, including the largest collection of Michelangelo's drawings in the world, it now acts as the protector of the artist's legacy.

–Chiyo Ishikawa, Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting & Sculpture

Interested in learning more about Michelangelo? Take the free cell phone audio tour, featuring Dr. Gary Radke, curatorial advisor for the exhibition and Dean's Professor of the Humanities at Syracuse University. Also available as a podcast or download. Learn more!

Educational Resources
To explore this exhibition a little deeper, attend some of the related programs and events for kids, teens and adults or download our bibliography. Teachers, integrate Michelangelo Public and Private into your classroom with our school tours and educator resources.

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Featured Events

"Michelangelo: The Artist and the Aristocrat" with William Wallace

"Between Art & Architecture: Geometry in Michelangelo's Laurentian Library" with Ben Nicholson