|Mary is usually drawn with baby Jesus, but here she|
is shown protecting innocent children. The identity
of this Florentine artist is unknown.
However, thanks to the
|Photo of the Spedale from the early 1900s.|
This museum was completely remodeled and re-opened to the public in June of 2016, and it provides a vivid and
|A portion of the historical timeline of the Spedale.|
In one room, visitors can view 140 objects that parents left
|An archival record of one of the foundlings, one who|
thrived under the care of the orphanage.
In another section, one can read the notes that the orphanage
|Not every story ended happily, unfortunately.|
After the orphans were placed in adoptive homes, parish priests followed up with home visits to make sure the children were well looked after. I read of one instance where the priest reported that a child was living in a filthy environment, and the child was returned to the Innocenti.
|One of the inner courtyards, where the orphans could play safely in the sunshine.|
In another section of the museum, one can select and watch videos of people who describe how their parents or grandparents were orphans and were successfully adopted after having been raised in the Spedale degli Innocenti. Also included are some photos taken inside the orphanage in the early 1900s.
On the floor above the museum, one can see the outside courtyards of the orphanage itself and enjoy the splendid
|In these illuminated drawers, protected by glass, one can view|
the remembrances that parents left with their children.
Florence native Enrico Michelassi, in a Google review written in Italian, commented: “If you think this is just a museum, you would be off track. True, the environment has an architectural beauty that touches perfection, true the view of the panorama from the terrace is worth the visit alone, true that the museum is modern and absolutely adapted to the theme—but it is the historical content and humanity that make this place exceptional. It is the first orphan asylum in history, a model followed up to our time. In reading the stories of children over the centuries, you enter the life of the city and you discover how impressive is the number of those reintroduced into society, and how important this has been for the city itself.”
* The terms orphan and foundling are not synonyms. An orphan is a child whose parents have died. A foundling has been abandoned by his or her parents. Thanks to Ange Coniglio for pointing this out.