The Museo Stibbert or Stibbert Museum is located next to the entrance to a small park in the Villa di Montughi at the via Frederick Stibbert 26 on the hill of Montughi. The building which houses the museum is where Frederick Stibbert (1838-1906) once lived. Stibbert was an avid collector and it is this collection that can be seen today.
Frederick Stibbert who had an English father and an Italian mother, became very wealthy when his grandfather Giles Stibbert died leaving him a fortune. Without the need to earn a living, Frederick threw himself into collecting a huge range of artefacts. As the collection grew, Frederick called in architect Giuseppe Poggi, painter Gaetano Bianchi and the sculptor Passaglia to extend his home to accommodate it.
After the death of Frederick Stibbert in 1906, his collection was passed to the city of Florence who turned his home into a museum. For a number of years, in an attempt to make sense of such a large collection, the collection was rearranged a number of times, but lately Frederick’s eccentricities have become more appreciated and attempts have been made to return the house to the way he intend.
The walls are adorned with lavish paintings covering a range of periods and reflecting Stibbert’s personal tastes. There are also some examples of Stibbert’s own work displayed on the door panels that divide the billiards room from the armoury. Another important part of the collection is the porcelain and majolica obtained from some high-end manufacturers. The smoking room contains an entire loggia using lustre Moorish majolica tiles.Stibbert was at the forefront of introducing the William Morris movement into Florence with ceramics produced by Copeland & Sons.
The museums greatest contribution is in its display of arms and suits of armour, with a variety of rare items which date from the 15th up to the 17th century. Many of these originated in Europe, but there is also some fine Oriental, Persian, Indian, and Islamic examples. The museum also has one of the largest collections of Japanese arms outside of Japan, with dozens of suits of armour and hundreds of swords.
One of the rooms has been decorated in the style of the Alhambra palace in Spain, and contains a cavalcade with an Indian prince on horseback surrounded by Persian foot soldiers dressed in chainmail, a common form of protection used by Islamic forces up until the 19th century.