The original building, dilapidated by time, was rebuilt in the first decade of the twentieth century right where the Alighieri family homes once stood and where in 1265 Dante was born, according to a local memory handed down over the centuries which has always indicated the group of houses near the Torre della Castagna as “Dante’s houses.”
The institution in Florence of a museum devoted to the poet of the Divine Comedy was a priority of the Unione Fiorentina from as early as 1950. In 1960, in preparation for the seventh centenary of Dante’s birth, the Unione Fiorentina (in keeping with its aims of enhancing the cityàs cultural offerings) requested and obtained permission to set up a museum of Dante’s house (the space was being used for offices of the city administration). The museum designed and installed by the Unione Fiorentina was opened to the public in May 1965, thanks to financial contributions from various meritorious organizations such as the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze bank, the Azienda del Turismo tourist promotion agency, the Industrialists’ Association, the City of Florence, and the Ministry of Public Instruction, as well as prominent figures in the cultural world, including the eminent Dante scholar Francesco Mazzoni.
The basic aim of the management of the Museum of Dante’s House, conceived as a memorial site, is to spread knowledge of Dante’s life and works to the broader general public.
The museum’s opening to the public was guaranteed by a cooperative effort between the City of Florence and the Unione Fiorentina until 1990, when it was necessary to close the museum for restoration. Thanks to the industrious interest taken by president of the Unione at the time, Sen. Luciano Bausi, the museum reopened in May 1994, and the City of Florence gave the Unione the burden and honor of its exclusive management.
From 2002 to 2005, the building was reinforced structurally and architectural barriers removed at the expense of the City of Florence, owner of the building. During this work, the museum exhibits were stored in a warehouse that was destroyed by fire. Thus it became necessary to design a whole new museum, following the criteria of modern museum management. Its current arrangement has strengthened the institution’s historical and educational aspects and has the advantage of considering the museum an organism open to growth, adaptable to the new needs and demands of a public that is becoming increasingly interested in Dante’s work.
All this was made possible by the resources of the Unione Fiorentina and the fundamental support of Vivahotels – Fondazione Romualdo Del Bianco (which conceived the promotion Be Part of History with Dante) and of the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze.
The synergy among the Unione Fiorentina, associations, and private parties was thus able to respond to the repeated requests of the public, resulting in the museum’s reopening on 27 September 2005.
The museum is set up on three floors, each of which treats a different theme, illustrating through panels and exhibits Dante’s private life, his political activity, and exile, while furnishing also information about medieval Florence in the time when Dante was alive.