My first experience seeing the Golden Gates were in Florence, Italy where I was studying art abroad at School of Art Center International. It was almost overwhelming the sheer amount of monumental art in the city. Every turn was another feature. However, what they don't tell you at first is that the real art is usually housed in a museum and the outdoor features are merely replicas. For instance, there are several David replicas of Michelangelo but the real one you have to go into a museum to see. When I first saw the Golden Gates of Paradise in front of Il Duomo (the Main Cathedral in Florence) it was behind a fence creating a distance of nearly ten feet, making it hard to discern the art from up close.
To my surprise, this summer a replica of The Golden Gates of Paradise appeared at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, one of the finest institutions in Kansas City and really the entire nation. I was amazed to see this up close, and even more amazed to find this is the only replica that exists outside of Florence. During the flood of 1966 of the Arno in Florence, the Golden Gates were badly water damaged. Once the flooding subsided, intense conservation work was done to preserve the quality of the brass doors created by Lorenzo Ghiberti in 1452. Using lasers they etched out the grime that had adhered to the surface, and were able to make a plaster cast of the bronze masterpiece. Only two replicas were cast: one remains in the original baptistry doors, the original is now housed in a museum in Florence, and the second copy is now permanently at the Nelson! I forget the benefactor who donated the pieces, and will surely update this with more information later.
It is truly an amazing masterpiece that the Nelson has acquired, and I am sure this will be a pilgrimage destination for hundreds if not thousands of art enthusiasts around the country and the world. The best part? The Nelson is an entirely free museum !
If you are around Kansas City, be sure to check out the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and witness this masterpiece firsthand. You can even put gloves on and touch the piece!
Look at that amazing detail! It apparently took decades to complete this masterpiece of sculpture, which depicts ten Biblical scenes in chronological order - a monumental feat of both narrative form, sculptures, and history. As far as I know this will be a permanent display for all to see at the Block Building in the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.