Sketches of the face of an elderly man, a figure, and the archway and pillar of a building float in diagonal rectangular stripes against a black background

#MichelangeloLastDecades 

2 May – 28 July 2024

Daily: 10.00–17.00 (Fridays 20.30)
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Room 35

The Joseph Hotung Great Court Gallery
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Tickets

Adults from £18, Members and under-16s free.
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In 1534, Michelangelo left Florence for Rome, never to see his native city again. He was 59, which many contemporaries regarded as old, but for Michelangelo this move marked the beginning of a dramatic new chapter which would fundamentally shape his experiences as an artist and as a man.

This exhibition looks at the last 30 years of Michelangelo's remarkable life, when his return to Rome – having been summoned by Pope Clement VII to paint a fresco of the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel – brought him new commissions and reunited him with some of his closest friends. 

Having secured his reputation with works including his famous statue of David, Michelangelo was already the most celebrated artist in Europe. But, rather than resting on his laurels, his Christian faith, intellectual engagement and hope for salvation propelled him to produce some of the most striking works of his career. Forceful preparatory drawings for the Last Judgment as well as the recently conserved Epifania – one of only two surviving cartoons by Michelangelo – show his renewed energy and desire to challenge himself.

These works are displayed alongside studies for Michelangelo's grand architectural projects as well as drawings, poems and intimate letters that reveal his personal passions and anxieties. Rather than showing an artist in decline, this exhibition shows the astonishing dynamism that Michelangelo brought to his work in the final decades of his life as he explored salvation and confronted his mortality.

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Ticket information

Members

Members don't need to book to visit Michelangelo: the last decades. Please show your Membership card to gain entry. If you're visiting before your Membership card arrives, bring your Membership purchase confirmation email to the Membership Desk in the Great Court on the day of your visit. We'll then issue a temporary card to access your on-site benefits.

Please see our Visiting as a Member page for more information on visiting the Museum.

Families

Find Tom in Time creative family trail

Get creative and discover what life was like in Michelangelo's Italy through our Find Tom in Time exhibition trail and art pack. This self-led trail takes you to four stops in our stunning exhibition Michelangelo: the last decades and has practical art activities for families to complete together, which complement the exhibition. 

Collect the trail and art pack from the Families Desk in the Great Court on weekends and school holidays – please check our Family visits page for more information including opening times. 

This trail is based on Find Tom in Time, a brilliantly fun search-and-find puzzle book series for children ages six and over, written and illustrated by Fatti Burke, and published by Nosy Crow in collaboration with the British Museum.

Schools

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Exhibition supporters

Supported by

James Bartos, Dunard Fund and a gift in memory of Melvin R. Seiden.

With additional support from

The Cosman Keller Art and Music Trust, The Vaseppi Trust, the Italian Cultural Institute and The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

Funding for the conservation of the Epifania cartoon was generously provided through a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project.

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