The massive Palazzo Nonfinito, begun in 1593 by Buontalenti on the Borgo degli Albizi was built over a number of towers and older houses mainly belonging to the Pazzi purchased by Alessandro and Roberto Strozzi. Buontalenti is given credit for the main Borgo degli Albizi facade, while Santi di Tito was hired to design the stair, which so annoyed Buontalenti that he quit.
In 1600, the Venetian Vicenzo Scamozzi and Giovanni Battista Caccini took over the building, and constructed the giant entrance, perhaps because Buontalenti's original plan called for two more floors. Buontalenti's pupil Matteo Nigetti worked on it for a while after 1612, and after that work stopped.
In 1802, the Strozzi sold the palace, and 1814 it was sold to the state. Since then it served as everything from the prefecture and customs house to the post office, until 1919 when it was given to the University; in 1932, the collections of the first ethnological museum in Italy were moved here and have been here ever since.
The collection, founded in 1869 to illustrate the range of human diversity, and it succeeds. Not surprisingly, the oldest items were brought to Florence by the insatiable Medici, who rarely saw anything unusual or valuable that they didn't itch to own. The museum's 18 rooms contain everything from Peruvian mummies, musical instruments collected by Galileo Chini (who decorated the Liberty-style extravaganzas at Viareggio), plus lovely and unusual items made by Japan’s mysterious Caucassian people, the Ainu, and Pakistan’s Kafiri, and skulls from all over the world.
Via del Proconsolo 12
Hours Oct-May Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 9.30am-4.30pm, Sat & Sun 10am-4.30pm; June-Sept daily 10.30am-5.30pm
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Images by: Sailko, GNU Creative Commons License