The Opera del Duomo Museum in Siena is housed in the right nave of the New Cathedral, the massive construction that was meant to enlarge the cathedral, begun in 1339 and interrupted following the outbreak of the plague that devastated the city in 1348.
The Museum was established to conserve and display works coming from the Cathedral that were removed for various reasons from their original location. The museum is home to unique masterpieces like the Maestà by Duccio di Buoninsegna, the splendid altarpiece that’s considered a masterwork of early 14th-century Italian painting.
The exhibition begins on the ground floor, with a collection of 14th-century marble statues coming from the façade that depict sibyls, prophets and philosophers of Antiquity, sculpted by Giovanni Pisano, as well as the famous tondo by Donatello with the Madonna and Child, known as the Madonna del Perdono. At the end of the Statue Gallery is the majestic window executed by Duccio di Buoninsegna between 1287 and 1290 for the cathedral’s apse.
In addition to the Maestà, the first floor of the Museum is home to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary by Pietro Lorenzetti, statues of the Madonna and saints sculpted by Jacopo della Quercia in the 1400s and numerous medieval illuminated manuscripts. In the Treasury, there are over 200 objects associated with the sacred liturgy.
Finally, the top floor hosts a rich collection of paintings, including the Madonna of the Large Eyes, one of the oldest paintings of the Sienese school, painted by the Maestro di Tressa in the 13th century, as well as the altarpieces by Matteo di Giovanni and the 1516 panel painting depicting St. Paul Enthroned by Domenico Beccafumi.