Museum Tour of Siena (Self Guided), Siena

Siena is famous for its museums, which preserve a great number of cultural masterpieces. The museums of Siena showcase paintings, sculptures and frescoes that date back to ancient times. You can also get aсquainted with other objects related to the cultural and historical development of the city. If you want to feel the spirit of Siena, visit the notable museums included on this tour.
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Museum Tour of Siena Map

Guide Name: Museum Tour of Siena
Guide Location: Italy » Siena (See other walking tours in Siena)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Author: irenebo
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Museo di Storia Naturale
  • Pinacoteca Nazionale
  • Santa Maria della Scala Complesso Museale
  • Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
  • Museo Civico
  • Archivio di Stato di Siena
  • Museo Diocesano d'Arte Sacra
Museo di Storia Naturale

1) Museo di Storia Naturale

The Museo di Storia Naturale, or the natural history museum, contains geological and paleontological exhibits from around Tuscany. Some of the objects date back to the Jurassic age.

The Museo di Storia Naturale was founded by the Siena Academy of Sciences in 1691. It was first located in the library of the Hospital Santa Maria Della Scala by the eminent Professor of Medicine and Botany of the university of Siena, Pirro Maria Gabbrielli. It was moved to a former Camaldolensian Monastery after the devastating earthquake that shook the city in 1798. The present collection at the museum dates back to mid 18th century.

The Museo di Storia Naturale has three major sections dedicated to zoology, geology and paleontology. Notable exhibits include the collection of eminent scientist, Paolo Mascagni, consisting of books and specimens, and the Francesco Valenti-Serini collection, consisting of models of edible and poisonous mushrooms. The zoological section features specimens native to Tuscany, especially skeletons of marine mammals. The geological section has rocks and other objects collected in Tuscany and donated by eminent geologists to the museum in the 18th and 19th centuries. There is also a collection of rare meteor rocks catalogued by Ambrogio Soldani in 1764. The museum has an extensive archive of books and handwritten documents relating to the natural history of Siena.

Operation hours: Monday -Friday: 9 am- 2 pm.
Pinacoteca Nazionale

2) Pinacoteca Nazionale (must see)

The Pinacoteca Nazionale is a national museum inaugurated in 1932, housing especially late medieval and Renaissance paintings from Italian artists. The gallery has one of the largest collections of Sienese paintings with gold backgrounds from the 14th and 15th centuries. Valuable works by international painters donated by art collectors are also displayed.

Two palaces, the Brigidi and Buonsignori house the Pinacoteca Nazionale Art Gallery in Siena. The Brigidi palace is a 14th century building that served as the residence of the Pannocchieschi family. The Buonsignori palace is a 15th century building although its façade dates back to the 19th century. The art collection was founded by the Abbott Giuseppe Ciaccheri in the 18th century and was expanded through donations and acquisitions. The Italian government took over the museum in 1930 and from 1977, the museum displayed works by international artists. The second floor of the Pinacoteca Nazionale has a valuable collection of Sienese paintings on gold backgrounds from the 14th and 15th centuries. They are documented and displayed in chronological order at the gallery. The first floor has works of Sienese artists from the 15th century onwards. The Spannocchi Collection added in 1977 has works by Northern and Flemish masters. The ground floor is dedicated to cartoons, sketches and sculpture displays. Well known Sienese artists featured at the gallery are Sodoma, the Lorenzetti brothers and Simone Martini.

Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 8:15 am-7:15 pm; Monday, Sunday and holidays: 9 am-1 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Santa Maria della Scala Complesso Museale

3) Santa Maria della Scala Complesso Museale (must see)

The Santa Maria della Scala Complesso Museale occupies a building that is one of Europe’s oldest and largest hospitals, the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala. It became a museum in the 1990s. The canons of the cathedral established the hospital that now houses the Santa Maria della Scala Complesso Museale. The poor, orphans and pilgrims were offered medical assistance here from 898 to the 1990s. According to local legend, it was founded by a shoemaker on the land donated by him and later managed by the church. In the 15th century, the city of Siena took over its management. The old hospital building had interiors covered with frescoes by Sienese masters of which only a few are left today. The windows are covered with the oldest Italian manufactured stained glass by Duccio dating back to 1288. The Museum is the third largest repository of art and sculpture in Siena.

The basement rooms house the National Archeological Museum with objects from excavations around Siena. At the entrance is a 15th century fresco by Domenico Beccafumi's called the Meeting at Porta Andrea. The main ward room that once contained beds for patients has walls covered with frescoes depicting the history of the hospital. There is also an impressive collection of works by Sienese artists in the other rooms. The museum also holds themed temporary exhibitions from time to time.

Operation hours:
From March 15th to October 15th: Monday - Sunday: 10 am - 7 pm; Thursday until 10 pm.
From October 16th to March 14th: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 10 am - 5 pm; Friday until 8 pm; Saturday and Sunday: 10 am to 7 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo

4) Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (must see)

The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo houses the art treasures of the Cathedral of Siena. It is one of the oldest private museums in Italy.

In the year 1339, Siena was one of the wealthiest cities in Italy. At the time there were plans to extend the cathedral structure to make it one of the biggest in the world. Construction had started when the plague epidemic that swept across Europe killed almost two thirds of the population of Siena in 1348. As a result, the new nave remained unfinished. The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo was established in 1879 in the walled up right aisle of the unfinished new nave of the cathedral. It has an impressive collection of religious art and sculpture by well known Sienese artists.

Treasures at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo include Sienese religious sculpture which was to have adorned the façade of the unfinished structure, stained glass windows by the artist, Duccio di Buoninsegna, tapestries and manuscripts. A separate air conditioned room houses the Maesta altarpiece also by Duccio di Buoninsegna which is the treasure of the museum. When the artist finished the piece in 1311, it is said that it was carried in procession to the cathedral by the clergy, statesmen and townsfolk. Visitors can climb the stairs on to what was planned to be the façade of a new cathedral in 1339 and get spectacular views across Siena.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museo Civico

5) Museo Civico (must see)

Religious and secular art are displayed in the Museo Civico located inside the Palazzo Publico or Town Hall of the city. It houses works of Sienese and other Italian artists, as well as some European masters.

The Museo Civico was established in 1930. Works by Italian and international artists are exhibited in the first few rooms. Frescoes by Sienese masters adorn the walls of the inner rooms. The open air loggia of the building has faded painted panels by Jacopo della Quercia that once formed part of the Gaia fountain of Siena.

Notable frescoes in the Museo Civico include the Allegory of Good and Bad Government and Their Effects on the Town and Countryside by the Sienese master, Ambrogio Lorenzetti that adorns Salla della Pace, the room where the city council met. It is regarded as the finest piece of secular art from the medieval era. Sala del Risorgimento has a fresco dedicated to the first King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II who ruled after the unification of the country. Sala del Mappamondo has two of the most celebrated works of the Sienese artist, Simone Martini. On the left, is his first painting, the Maesta, and the fresco of Guidoriccio da Fogliano about the conquest of Montemassi by Sienese troops is on the right. A bronze she-wolf, the symbol of Siena, is located in the vestibule.

Operation hours: November 1 - March 15: 10 am - 6 pm; March 16 - October 31: 10 am - 7 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Archivio di Stato di Siena

6) Archivio di Stato di Siena

The archives of the Biccherna, the medieval name for the municipal tax office, are preserved in this large building that was once the Palazzo Piccolomini. It contains many valuable historical documents relating to the City of Siena. The Palazzo, that now houses the city archives, was once the residence of the Piccolomini Family. It was built between 1469 and 1510 by Giacomo and Andrea Piccolomini Todeschini, the nephews of Pope Pius II. The design was done by architect Rossellino. In the 17th century, the last scion of the family rented the building to Celso Tolomei to start a school for young noblemen. In 1824, the palazzo was donated to the city of Siena and housed several government offices. The grand Duke Leopold II issued a decree instituting the city archives in 1858. The palazzo has housed the archives from the date of the decree.

The State Archives are split into three sections: the amendments or government archives; diplomatic archives; and contract or notarial archives. The Municipal Tax office records, called the Tavolette" of the Biccherna, are some of the most valuable historic records located here. These records, dated from 1258 to 1500, are painted on wood with egg tempera and gold leaf. Each panel represents different city guilds and consists of Latin text and images by well known artists. Besides these records, other documents, furnished by prominent families and religious associations, also form part of the State Archives.
Museo Diocesano d'Arte Sacra

7) Museo Diocesano d'Arte Sacra

The rich history and religious traditions of Siena are showcased in this museum. Exhibits at the Museo Diocesano d'Arte Sacra include religious artwork and artifacts.

The Museo Diocesano d'Arte Sacra or New Diocesian Museum of Sacred Art is located within the historic Church of San Francesco. It is housed in the Oratorio di San Bernardino. The oratorio was built in the 1400s on the site where Saint Bernardino preached Christianity to the people. It was restored and converted into a museum at the end of the 20th century. The museum covers several rooms of the oratorio in two floors and has frescoes and other paintings by Sienese and other well known Italian artists.

The Museo Diocesano d'Arte Sacra has many works that have been declared as Important Antiques by the Italian Government. The notable works displayed include 14th century works by such artists as Mark di Bonaventura, Tomme Luca, Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Andrea Vanni. There are also some magnificent Mannerist frescoes by Domenico Beccafumi, the cycle fresco, depicting the life of the Virgin, by Sodoma, and Madonna del Latte by the well known Sienese painter Pietro Lorenzetti. The museum also features a collection of sculpture by artists Antonio Federighi and Domenico di Niccolò dei Cori, and pieces of religious jewelry.

Operation hours: March 1 - October 31: Monday - Sunday: 1:30 pm - 7 pm

Walking Tours in Siena, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Siena

Create Your Own Walk in Siena

Creating your own self-guided walk in Siena is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Siena Introduction Walking Tour

Siena Introduction Walking Tour

The historic city of Siena in Italy's Tuscany, founded by ancient Etruscans, is laden with monuments. Among them are numerous medieval sculptures, some dating back as far as the 13th century, an unfinished Gothic cathedral by Niccolo Pisano and Donatello, and others. To find out more about the riches of Siena, follow this orientation walk and explore the city's top attractions.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
Siena's Historical Buildings Tour

Siena's Historical Buildings Tour

Siena is the city of ancient architecture. You can observe architectural styles from different periods of history in Siena's imperious castles, palaces and other historic buildings. Be sure to visit Siena's most important historic structures that are found on this tour.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Top Religious Buildings

Top Religious Buildings

Churches in Siena have both historical and cultural value, as almost every one of them is decorated with Renaissance art. Some of the masterpieces date back to the 13th century. A walking tour of Siena's places of worship is the best way to learn about the cultural and spiritual center of the city. Take this tour to visit some of Siena's most famous churches.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Siena Sightseeing Tour

Siena Sightseeing Tour

Siena is a beautiful medieval city situated in the center of the Toscana region. As a city with a rich history, it has a lot of cultural and historical attractions to offer visitors. The following tour will lead you to the most famous sights of Siena.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles