About the Exhibit
Florence was the great laboratory of Renaissance art, but very few know it was also the laboratory of early modern theater, especially Sacred Drama (Sacra Rappresentazione, in Italian). Sacred dramas were theatrical performances of the Old and New Testaments and the lives of the saints. Lay brotherhoods used sacred dramas to provide moral instruction and civic education to children, the future citizens of Florence.
The exhibition features the theatrical machinery used in these performances, including crucifixes with movable arms, as well as paintings and drawings inspired by sacred dramas. Visitors will also encounter the manuscripts and early printed texts of these sacred dramas, a rare look into this popular Renaissance dramatic genre.
In 15th-century Florence, Sacra Rappresentazione was popular among all social classes. Sacred dramas were soon produced as literature and became a popular drama genre in the new and growing publishing market. They were appreciated for the persuasive effectiveness of the texts and images. Many Renaissance authors wrote sacred dramas—including Lorenzo de’ Medici, called Il Magnifico—as they were certain that the genre could be used to guide public and political thought and behavior, and thus educate the whole city.
This new exhibition offers a unique opportunity to learn about Sacred Drama, a theme never before featured in an exhibition in the United States. Sacred Drama is a little-known topic even in the academic world, and Museum of the Bible is excited to invite all to learn about the impact of the Bible on lesser-known aspects of culture.