Beyond the Walls
of Sant’Orsola

The first exhibition of the future Museo Sant'Orsola

The exhibition closed on the 1rst of October 2023.
Forthcoming exhibition in spring 2024.

From September 2 to October 1 – 2023, the historical convent of Sant’Orsola opens to the public for a contemporary art exhibition, Beyond the Walls of Sant’Orsola.

The exhibition, curated by the future Sant’Orsola Museum and sponsored by the Metropolitan City of Florence, is the first of a series of encounters with the public to discover a space in constant evolution. Visitors will access Sant’Orsola before the official opening of the museum and enter those walls that have been inaccessible for decades. In that way, they will become witnesses and participants in the ongoing redevelopment process.

The exhibition presents the works of two young contemporary artists, Sophia Kisielewska-Dunbar and Alberto Ruce. Both have made unique creative projects inspired by the history of the place.

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.



Free entrance


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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