During the working site

Upcoming exhibition:

Rivelazioni : 28 June - 27 October 2024

In anticipation of the official opening scheduled for 2026, Museo Sant’Orsola is organizing a series of exhibitions invading the spaces of the building site, inviting contemporary artists to bring their gaze to the monument and its history. From exhibit to exhibit, visitors will be able to participate in the rebirth of the place and gradually reclaim spaces that have been taken away from the city’s life for too long.

Rivelazioni: Juliette Minchin and Marta Roberti enchant the ancient monastery of Sant’Orsola

The second edition of “exhibitions on site” will feature the French sculptor and the Italian designer, both called to Sant’Orsola to create site-specific works of art. Juliette Minchin’s wax installations and Marta Roberti’s delicate drawings will reveal new aspects of the former monastery’s past. The two artists propose a common imaginative approach that opens up the ancient convent to a dreamscape.
The exhibition, therefore, is conceived as a dreamlike evocation of Sant’Orsola’s past and is intended as a tribute not only to the memory of the place but also to the imagination and enchanting capacity of art.

Past exhibition: Oltre le mura di Sant’Orsola (June, September 2023)
Sophia Kisielewska-Dunbar and Alberto Ruce tell forgotten stories

The first exhibition of the future museum, Beyond the Walls of Sant’Orsola, involved two young contemporary artists who created an art project inspired by the women who once inhabited the place.

In the space of the former church, the street artist Alberto Ruce created a suspended installation inspired by the story of Lisa Gherardini, the presumed model of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, who spent her last years of life in the convent of Sant’Orsola. In the former monastic apothecary, on the other hand, he painted large murals evoking the pharmaceutical activity practiced by the nuns in that very place.

Sophia Kisielewska-Dunbar’s work enters into dialogue with the dispersed heritage of Sant’Orsola and questions the condition of women within the walls of convents. Her oil-on-canvas triptych, titled Noli me tangere, reinterprets and actualizes the traditional iconography of saints’ martyrdom through a female lens. The painting, set up in the second convent church, opens a new space of encounter between the ancient and the contemporary.

The artists


Sophia Kisielewska-Dunbar (born in 1990) is an artist and an art historian based in London. She graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2013 and worked for several years as a researcher for Day & Faber, a London-based fine art dealer specialising in European drawings. Her artistic practice combines a plurality of techniques from painting to embroidery, soft sculpture, drawing and performance. Her works often aim to open a dialogue between past and present and one of her principal focuses is the representation of women in Western art. Sophia has participated in numerous fairs and group shows in London and abroad. In Spring 2024 she will present her first solo show in Paris.

The first artist in residence at Sant’Orsola

From June 15 to September 15 – 2022, Sophia worked as the first artist in residence for the future Sant’Orsola Museum in Florence.

In Florence, Sophia worked in two ateliers outside the walls of Sant’Orsola: firstly in the Spazio Schola of the Accademia Italiana; then, thanks to a cultural partnership, she moved to the Porta Romana artistic high school.

Her work started with the research and study of the fragmentary heritage of Sant’Orsola. Sophia tried to immerse herself in the visual culture of a nunnery. Then, she carried out a period of pictorial experimentation which led her to the conception of two artistic projects. These projects, one monumental, Noli me Tangere, and one in miniature, Rewriting Sant’Orsola, will be purchased by the Museum to form the first nucleus of its contemporary art collection.


Alberto Ruce (born in 1988) is a Sicilian artist living in Marseille. His self-taught artistic path began with graffiti. In 2009 he moved to Paris where he took courses in drawing, painting and perspective at the Atelier des Beaux-Arts, getting closer and closer to figurative art.
In 2012 he took part in the group show GRAFF in Luxembourg ; four years later he organized his first solo exhibition 433’’ at Gadam Gallery in Messina. Since then he has joined numerous exhibitions and festivals in both Italy and France. Next summer he will display Transumanze, a research project on micro-migrations started in 2019 together with videomaker Carla Costanza, in San Marco D’Alunzio and Palermo.

His art remains linked to muralism. His murals, painted tone on tone with shades of gray and white, come to life between the cracks in the walls as dreamlike apparitions. His murals can be seen in various European cities such as Paris, Marseille, Brignoles, Messina, Palermo, Mostar, Athens and, today, also in Florence.

From March to May 2023, Alberto Ruce was involved in the project Ephemeral Museum; his works are ‘ephemeral’ in that they could be transformed or even erased by future renovations of the former convent of Sant’Orsola.

The Museum

The future Sant’Orsola Museum, expected to open in 2025, will be managed by a private nonprofit foundation created by Artea.

The museum will have the dual purpose of preserving the memory of the place, but also of promoting contemporary artistic creation, inviting established or emerging artists to dialogue with the traces of its past.

The museum space will be that of the old 14th-century church (255.60 m² ).  A glass floor will show the remains of ancient Renaissance tombs discovered in 2011-2014, including that of Lisa Gherardini, the presumed model for the Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

Enhancing the historical and artistic heritage of SantOrsola

The historical and artistic heritage of the monastery was confiscated during its suppression (1810).

Part of that heritage has merged into other Florentine museums or repositories. Sant’Orsola Museum will seek to recover and enhance works of art from the former monastery through restoration campaigns and loans.

Building our art collections

That part of the heritage that has been lost will be evoked through the gaze of contemporary artists, each with their own means of expression. The museum intends to build up its own collection of contemporary art, asking artists to create original works inspired by the place and elements of its history.

General information

The former convent of Sant’Orsola is located in the heart of Florence, near the main station of Santa Maria Novella, close to the Mercato Centrale (central market), the Basilica of San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapels, and less than 5 minutes walk from the Dome.



Temporarily closed.
Forthcoming exhibition in spring 2024.
Official opening of the museum in 2025.


Former convent of Sant'Orsola,
Via Sant'Orsola, Florence.
50123 Firenze

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