The Arts Society

Are you interested in arranging a Society Visit to Florence? 


Short courses are available for individual Arts Societies with programme scheduling tailor-made to fit the needs of each group. Logistical arrangements for travel to and from Italy, accommodation and meals are provided by The Arts Society affiliated travel agencies in coordination with the British Institute.

Courses can be scheduled on weekday mornings and/or afternoons, leaving ample time for sightseeing and individual exploration of Florence.  Sessions normally last an hour and a half to two hours, with lectures being held in the Harold Acton Library at the British Institute of Florence (Lungarno Guicciardini 9), visits beginning directly on site at designated meeting points, and technical art history workshops alternating between the Library and professional work sites in Florence.

View our features in the Summer 2016 and Autumn 2016 NADFAS Review. Tavelling to Florence individually? Enjoy 10% off on our monthly courses as The Arts Society members, or join us this September for our new course: 


Our 2017/2018 courses feature lectures and visits led by our internationally renowned team of academics and art world professionals, including The Arts Society accredited lecturers Jeremy Boudreau and Lisa Kaborycha: Meet the Team. 


Examples of previous short courses offered at the British Institute of Florence:



The ARNO UNLEASHED Seven Centuries of Art and Floods in Florence:

As Florence commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Great Flood of November 1966, the British Institute of Florence will offer a special short course devoted to the historic floods of Florence and their impact on the Art of the city in autumn 2016. 





MATERIAL CULTURE in Early Modern Italy:

This 15-session course is devoted to the role of the applied arts in the shaping of Italian culture from the 13th to 17th centuries. With a strong focus on the city of Florence, its Renaissance guilds of craftsmen and later workshops of the Medici Court, this course provides historical context and interpretation for the ornament, apparel and furnishings of Florence’s golden age. From household furniture and clothing to precious reliquaries and diplomatic gifts, creativity has persistently informed all aspects of Florentine life, and the artists and patrons of this culture established standards of style and taste that continue to inspire today. Specific themes include the form and function of the arts of illumination, early printing and bookmaking, textile production and costume, gold and silverwork, ivory, marquetry and pietre dure manufacture, as well as the visual and literary evidence of this material culture in the paintings, sculpture, architecture and archives of Italy.




Renaissance Art at the Italian COURTS: 

This 15-session course explores the varied aspects of artistic activity at the princely courts in Italy during the 15th century providing a clear understanding of the special nature of Renaissance art produced in three 15th century Italian city states – Ferrara, Mantua and Urbino– which were ruled by individual families. We examine how and why court art differs from the art production in the republics such as Florence in the same period.





Florence in FESTIVAL: 

This 10-session course surveys the rich calendar of liturgical, civic and dynastic festivals celebrated in Florence during the Renaissance. Rituals and traditions associated with feast days and other events including the festa degli omaggi of San Giovanni, the scoppio del carro of Easter Sunday, and the traditional processions and marking the Florentine New Year, on the feast of the Annunciation.






WOMEN in Renaissance Art: 

This 10-session course focuses on the “Renaissance Woman” and her many contributions to artistic, domestic and courtly life during the 15th and 16th centuries. Women as artists, patrons of art, writers and musicians in their own right, particularly among the ruling families of Florence and the Northern Italian city states, will be examined through the examples of Lavinia Fontana, Sofonisba Anguissola, Vittoria Colonna, Gaspara Stampa, Veronica Franco, Isabella d’Este, Eleonora of Toledo and others. 





MUSIC in Art: 

This 10-session course explores, through illustrated lectures, musical examples and gallery visits, the “silent music” of Greco-Roman ceramics and sculptures, frescoes, manuscript illuminations and celebrated paintings from the Gothic to the Renaissance, while illuminating the fascinating web of connections between the visual arts, music and dance. Participants examine scenes of music-making and dancing, portraits of musicians and composers, and unveil the mysteries of musical symbolism and allegory.





Man in the MAKING: 

This 10-session course explores the various methods, tools, and materials utilised by sculptors of the Renaissance to create the ‘bozzetto’, the preliminary model in clay or wax upon which sculptures in marble and bronze were based. Participants will each create their own model of a human figure in modelling wax (to keep), using the various techniques common in renaissance workshops: canons of proportion, anatomical study, the influence of the Antique, and use of the living nude model. The hands-on approach to the course is supplemented by lectures detailing the history of these techniques, as well as on-site visits in Florence’s historic centre.