If MAEC is predominantly archaeological, this museum is the real picture gallery of the town, a little jewel that preserves and shows unquestionable masterpieces of great painters of Italian arts. The Diocesan Museum of Cortona was established at the end of the Second World War by the will of Bishop Giuseppe Franciolini and of the Chapter of the Cathedral with the aim of safeguarding, preserving and giving a proper placement to extraordinary masterpieces coming from the churches, convents and oratories of Cortona and its diocese. It gathers remarkable works of art made by the Lorenzetti brothers, Fra Angelico, Bartolomeo della Gatta, Luca Signorelli, Giuseppe Maria Crespi, Francesco Capella and Gino Severini, together with liturgical objects, reliquaries and religious vestments of great historic and artistic value; in particular, the Annunciation by Fra Angelico, the Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Signorelli, the Saint Margaret in Ecstasy by Crespi, the sketches of the Way of the Cross by Gino Severini, the Vagnucci Reliquary and the Vestment of Cardinal Passerini, made from the drawings of Raffaellino del Garbo and Andrea del Sarto.
The museum is located within the architectural complex of Jesus, built between 1498 and 1505 by the will of the members of the Lay Brotherhood of Good Jesus with the following layout: an upper church, the Church of Jesus, and a lower oratory (or church) used for the meetings and activities of the brothers. The upper church, with a single nave, had originally three altars with three altarpieces commissioned to Luca Signorelli (now displayed in the Signorelli hall of the Museum). Where there once was the main altar now we can see a marvelous 15th century baptismal font by Ciuccio di Nuccio, originally located in the Cathedral. The spectacular timber ceiling made by Mezzanotte bearing the monogrammed initials of Saint Bernardine (IHS) and the symbols of the Passion of the Christ is to be admired. The lower oratory was entirely frescoed by Doceno from a drawing of Giorgio Vasari, representing some scenes of the Old and New Testament; finally, a terracotta sculpture of 1519 representing the Lamentation over the Dead Christ is particularly valuable.
The Diocesan Museum is open from 1st April to 31st October every day from 10 a.m. to 7 pm.; from 1st November to 31st March Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It only closes on 25th December at Christmas. Paid admission, partially accessible to disabled people, guided visits and educational activities available upon request.