In the Name of Michelangelo

September 7 to October 30, 2017

You can help restore Michelangelo’s tomb
and the Buonarroti family altarpiece in Santa Croce

When Michelangelo died in Rome at the venerable age of 88, the first priority of the Buonarroti and Medici families in Florence was to bring his body back in order to honor one of the greatest artists of all time. To this day, his magnificent sculpted and painted tomb in Santa Croce is a destination for art lovers from around the world seeking knowledge and some contact with the master.

Now this monument requires restoration
and we’re asking for your help.

The Church
The Church of Santa Croce in Florence is an encyclopedia of Italian art from the 13th to 19th century. It is known as the Pantheon of Italian greats due to its being the memorial or burial place of artists, scientists and thinkers like Galileo Galilei, Machiavelli and Michelangelo. About one million visitors each year come to the church to admire its artistic masterpieces – works that require restoration and constant monitoring.
Opera di Santa Croce
Opera di Santa Croce, the non-profit body that has been in charge of the church and monumental complex’s upkeep since the 14th century, does not receive any State funding and relies on donations by private individuals, foundations, or corporations for restorations that ensure that this heritage will be passed on to future generations. That is why OSC asks for your participation in this campaign to restore the tomb of Michelangelo and the altarpiece of his family.

Michelangelo’s tomb and altarpiece

The Tomb

The impressive tomb of Michelangelo is a multi-media project that extends to the family altar next to it. After the artist’s death in 1564, Duke Cosimo de’ Medici commissioned Giorgio Vasari to coordinate and create the memorial, which was finished in 1578. Alongside the artist, 66 members of the Buonarroti family are buried here. The tomb itself is an elaborate combination of marble sculpture and fresco painting, with a bust of Michelangelo and three figures representing the arts in which Michelangelo excelled: painting, sculpture and architecture.

The Altarpiece

Vasari’s altarpiece represents Christ Meeting Veronica on the Way to Calvary, in which there is a newly-discovered portrait of Michelangelo who pointingly looks towards his own tomb, affirming that the altar and tomb are meant to be read together. This image of Michelangelo, and indeed most of the figures in this painting, is hidden beneath centuries of grime and yellowed varnish that obscure Vasari’s once-colorful, drama-filled painting. The work’s surface was further damaged in the devastating 1966 Florence Flood, leaving cracks and bubbling in the paint. Now its structure is at risk due to an invasion of termites in the wooden support. This restoration has been long called for and has become urgent.


The restoration

OSC will call upon expert restorers to start cleaning and consolidation as early as November 1, 2017. A clean altarpiece will give this work a renewed legibility that will allow it to be studied as well as admired by all. But first, funding for this task must be secured.

In addition to the painting, which has received too little attention over the years, the famous marble tomb also requires attention. The last time it was cleaned was over 20 years ago. At this time, it requires preventative cleaning and diagnostics intended to delay the need for more extensive interventions in the future. We require €100,000 ($119,000) to carry out this restoration. The hope is to collect these funds by October 30, 2017. Work is to start immediately and should be finished by March, 2018, in time for the anniversary of Michelangelo’s birth.

How you can support this project

Donations of any amount are welcome

All contributors will receive the following benefits:

  • Permanent inscription in our Book of Donors, kept in the centuries-old Santa Croce Archives
  • Acknowledgement on our Website
  • Receive "Santa Croce Views" newsletter

Circle Level Donors

Circle-level donations are named after extraordinary individuals who constitute the legacy of the Santa Croce Monumental Complex.

  • Vasari Circle €4,400 ($5,000)
  • Giotto Circle €8,800 ($10,000)
  • Michelangelo Circle €18,000 ($20,000)

Circle level donors will:

  • Have their name inscribed on a sign in front of the tomb of Michelangelo (for a duration of 2 years)
  • Receive the invitation to a special event “In the Name of Michelangelo”, to be held in March 2018
  • Be eligible for a behind the scenes tour of Santa Croce Monumental Complex anytime they visit Florence
  • Be acknowledged in and receive a copy of the publication after the restoration

In addition to above listed benefits Giotto and Michelangelo Circle donors will:

  • Have their name prominently displayed on a Donor Wall at Santa Croce
  • Receive a special edition Michelangelo medal, made in bronze

Michelangelo Circle donors, all the above, plus:

  • Private dinner in Florence, with the Director and the Board members of Opera di Santa Croce
  • Invitation to visit an active restoration site in Santa Croce and meet the conservators
  • Invitations to the future special events in Santa Croce


They have already gotten involved

Domenico and Cristina Siniscalco

“One can spend hours in Santa Croce, pondering a great past of artists, writers, philosophers, politicians and bankers. We are happy to be able to make a small contribution to Santa Croce for the restoration of the tomb of the Buonarrotis, in the name of Michelangelo. If we have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Colm Kelleher

President, Morgan Stanley, New York, USA
"I am pleased to support the Opera di Santa Croce in their efforts to restore the tomb of Michelangelo and the Buonarroti Family Altarpiece. Morgan Stanley is sponsoring a major exhibition of Michelangelo's work at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2017, and the restoration of his family tomb is another way for us to celebrate the genius and innovative spirit of a man who continues to inspire us today. "

Richard Surface

London, UK
"For those who love art, Santa Croce is a Holy place. Michelangelo’s Tomb and the Buonarroti altarpiece are a kind of 'Stages of the Cross' for those who wish to pay homage there, and they deserve restoration and preservation."

List of donors

Michele Bilodeau, USA
Jim Chamberlain, USA
Sally Cornelison, USA
Joan Cremin, USA
Pat and Jennifer DiCapo, Canada
Anne Farrell, USA
Hannah Fritshner, USA
Kate Graham, USA

Tony and Anne Gully, USA
Meryl and Jeanne Haber, USA
Colm Kelleher, USA
Elizabeth Hove, USA
James and Sharon Madura, USA
Donna Malin, USA
Eugene McBurney Family Foundation, Canada
Morgan Stanley Limited, UK

Robert and Corinne Rooney, USA
Elaine Ruffolo, Italy
Domenico and Cristina Siniscalco, Italy
Heather Spiva, USA
Richard Surface, UK
Josephine Vaccaro, USA
Nancy Vaughan, USA
Claudyne Wilder, USA