Inspiring Spaces: Facilities at SACI
Open the doors to creative experience in our two Renaissance palazzi in the historic center of Florence: the Palazzo dei Cartelloni and the Jules Maidoff Palazzo for the Visual Arts.
Palazzo dei Cartelloni
The Palazzo dei Cartelloni, SACI's main building, includes a beautiful gallery and exhibition space, the Clayton Hubbs Lecture Hall, the SACI Worthington Library, two darkrooms, offices, an art conservation laboratory, and studio/classrooms surrounding a large, traditional Italian garden. The spacious and light-filled interiors, restored to their original Baroque magnificence, feature painted ceilings, frescoed walls, and marble floors. Its location is close to the Duomo, the churches of San Lorenzo and Santa Maria Novella, and just steps away from the central market and the Alinari photography archives.
The Palazzo was built on the foundations of the houses where Francesco Del Giocondo, a wealthy Florentine silk merchant, once lived. Many scholars believe that Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, Francesco’s wife. Recently discovered fragments of majolica plates and a pietraserena wash basin attributed to Benedetto da Maiano carry the Del Giocondo family crest and came from the Palazzo dei Cartelloni.
In the 17th century, the Palazzo was remodeled as a residence for the mathematician Vincenzo Viviani, who had been a pupil of the astronomer and scientist Galileo Galilei. Viviani dedicated his home to his esteemed teacher and placed two large scrolls on the building's façade that describe his extraordinary work and achievements. A bust of Galileo also crowns the palatial entranceway. Viviani created this monument in defiance of the papal ban that forbade honoring the work of Galileo partly because of Galileo's assertion that "The truth of nature is more important than traditional dogma." Thus SACI's home is a unique monument to a man who is considered one of the great sons of Florence.
Palazzo Jules Maidoff
The Jules Maidoff Palazzo for the Visual Arts is a fully-renovated Renaissance palace in the center of Florence, named after SACI's founder and director emeritus. This palazzo includes studios for students in SACI's MFA and Post-Baccalaureate programs as well as two darkrooms; photo drying, printing, and shooting labs; computer and video classrooms; a fresco painting studio; a language and literature classroom; and a gallery. It also features an internal courtyard and terraces that overlook a garden in which SACI students regularly meet with one another and with their instructors.
The Palazzo Jules Maidoff is a very short distance from Florence’s Oblate Library, a public library with a cafe that hosts cultural events and offers late evening hours that are ideal for SACI students. Also nearby is the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital, founded in 1288, with its notable collection of historic paintings; Florence’s Archaeological Museum; Italy's first opera house, the Pergola Theater; and the Conservatorio of Santa Maria degli Angiolini, with a Baroque chapel that was restored over a period of 11 years by SACI conservation students.
Our permanent ownership of two centrally located historic palaces, developed by SACI President Emeritus Mary Beckinsale into the ideal settings for art study, amazes visiting alumni. These visitors are also delighted because what once seemed a rare opportunity has become a permanent resource for serious artists – one which will continue the tradition of creative challenge that is the SACI hallmark, a criteria which is an integral part of the school.
– Jules Maidoff, SACI Founder and Director Emeritus
Learn More about the Facilities at SACI
SACI’s fully-furnished apartments, some of which date back to the Renaissance, offer independent living and direct access to historic Florence. Learn more about student housing at SACI.