The Stibbert museum is certainly one of the main stops for those visiting Florence, even if to be honest, it is not as advertised as it deserves and as its founder Frederick Stibbert would have liked.
Opera Boutique B&B it is only a 15 minute walk from the museum and its wonderful park.
Stibbert was born in Florence, but was a British citizen. He is the son of Thomas Stibbert (1771–1847), an English military colonel of the Coldstream Guards, and of Giulia Cafaggi (1805–1883), a young Tuscan woman.
The Stibbert family was very wealthy, originally from Norfolk: grandfather Giles Stibbert (1734–1809) was the commanding general in the East India Company and governor of Bengal.
Stibbert attended Harrow College in Cambridge. In 1849, after the death of his father, he moved with his mother and his two sisters, Sophronia and Erminia, to the Montughi villa (the current Stibbert Museum).
As the last male of the family he inherited all the assets of both his father and his uncles.
On 5 December 1861 he entered Freemasonry in the Florentine Loggia "Concordia", of which he was an effective member until 1891.
In this year he became honorary, while regularly continuing to pay his contributions to the Lodge until his death. Around 1866 he was a volunteer in the Garibaldian army.
Stibbert lived between his beloved Florence where he was born and England, where he studied and worked.
Stibbert invested the most significant part of his time and money in collecting and designing what is now the Stibbert Museum.
In this work of constant collection, he acted in a fairly casual manner, dominated by taste (period 1860-1880).
When the museum project took shape, he began to make increasingly prudent purchases and to reorganize the material already in his possession (period 1880-1906).
His main goal was to create something educational, especially for young people, aimed at stimulating an interest in the history of costume.
The armory initially represented the dominant sector of his interests, with a predilection for Japanese weapons, during the latter part of his life.
In particular, for each type of weapon Stibbert thought of real scenographic contexts.
He studied appropriate mannequins on which to mount weapons and armor and set up and decorated the rooms in order to make them suitable for their contents.
More generally, he renovated his residence and reorganized it with a view to the museum (today 64 rooms, on two floors, for a total of 5,000 m2).
The result was a true hybrid in which the rooms of everyday life merged with those of the collections.
This means that there was not one part of the villa used as a dwelling and another used as an exhibition space.
The house was the museum and the museum was the house, the park the wonderful setting.
Over time, he extended his passion for collecting paintings, goldsmiths, porcelain, costumes, fabrics, furnishings and books.
Stibbert bought all his treasures on his travels, thanks to a dense network of connections and informants of the world antiques market.
He spent for his collection, and therefore for his museum, important sums, but always in a careful way and not neglecting his own business.
So much that he managed to keep his patrimony almost intact until his death.
Stibbert did not marry and had no direct heirs. He dedicated his entire life to what he called "my Museum" in his will.
In this will (May 28, 1905) he expressed the will that his collections (over 50,000 pieces) and his villa in Montughi be set up in a museum open to the public.
However, he inserted the clause that the original organization should be respected, as he himself thought.
The English government was appointed as the first legatee, with the possibility, however, of withdrawing to the advantage of the second, the city of Florence.
Florence actually came into possession of it in 1908, establishing the Stibbert Opera Museum Foundation.
Frederick Stibbert is buried at the Allori Evangelical Cemetery.