The Stibbert Museum (Museo Stibbert) in Florence is often overlooked for its more popular neighbors like the Uffizi Galleries and the Accademia Gallery. But I think it’s one of Florence’s best museums – especially for kids and for knight and armor enthusiasts.
Frederick Stibbert (Federico Stibbert) had a passion for battle, antiques, armor, costumes, paintings, and war – and you can see it in his incredible collection of about 50,000 items. The items mostly date from the 15th century through the 19th century, but there are also Etruscan and Roman battle antiques as well (my son loved seeing the well-preserved Roman helmet). The artifacts are well-organized and displayed in the museum in Villa Montughi – the home he shared with his mother.
Fun Fact: As Stibbert’s collection grew, he had to add rooms to the villa!
The Stibbert Museum is an excellent place to visit with children, not only for the items on display, but also how they’re displayed. Yes, there are some things displayed behind glass, but many of the displays are out in the open, so kids can get up close and inspect the armor, see the details in the costumes, and imagine life in the grand villa.
My three boys love visiting the Stibbert Museum, and I’m sure yours will too. Here are some tips from our family to help make your visit smooth and fun!
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Reserve Your Entrance to the Stibbert Museum
Access to the Stibbert Museum is limited – you can’t just show up and walk in and wander around. It’s a private museum and you must be accompanied on your visit. You’ll see why as you walk around – everything (almost) is out, and not closed up behind display cases.
Although it’s not guided, the person who accompanies you knows a ton about the collection and explains what’s in the rooms. Ours gave fun facts to the kids and explained things like symbols on the Japanese helmets. While the visits are officially in Italian, they also speak English and can answer questions you or your children have.
To reserve your entrance time, call or email in advance. You can pay when you arrive. Remember to cancel if you won’t be able to show up so someone else can take your place.
Good To Know: The accompanied visit takes about 75-90 minutes.
Avoid Bringing a Stroller to the Stibbert Museum
You can bring a stroller – I just visited the museum with a lightweight umbrella stroller. There are multiple sets of stairs, but you can carry the stroller with you (except for the 30-ish stairs up to the Japanese gallery – you must leave your stroller below). I brought my stroller because I have a 2-year-old who I needed to keep from touching all of the armor and displays.
Babies could also nap outside in the adjacent park if you have a second adult in your group.
Think Twice About Visiting with Toddlers
Almost everything is exposed – knights with their armor stand in the middle of the rooms, antique Japanese masks are displayed in front of your eyes, and priceless furniture and paintings are displayed without glass or protection.
This is all amazing if you’re visiting and want a close look – you can see details in the stitching of the costumes, look at the paint strokes on the canvas, and get an up-close look at the swords and battle armor.
However, if you’ve got an early walker or a curious toddler, this can be a very frustrating museum to visit. If you can’t keep your toddler in a stroller (which is kind of a pain to have in this museum – see above), it can make for a stressful visit for the adult or caretaker.
I just visited with my toddler, and he was fine for about 30 minutes, but after that, I had to keep him in my arms because there was too much he could damage or knock over with just a quick tap of his curious fingers.
If you have a second adult in your group, you could have one adult play with small kids in the playground just outside the villa. It’s full of local families, and I can tell you, my toddler would’ve been just as happy to spend the time on the swings, slides, and see-saws of the playground!
Read About Knights Before You Visit
While there are multiple types of armor, try to focus on at least one of them, so your kids have an idea of what they are looking at. It will make your visit more meaningful. Here are a few books that would be nice to read before your visit. You can find them online or at your local library:
- Weapon – A Visual History of Arms and Armor (DK)
- See Inside Castles
- Magic Treehouse – The Knight at Dawn
- Magic Treehouse Merlin Missions – Haunted Castle on Hallow’s Eve
- Magic Treehouse Fact Tracker – Knights and Castles
- Knights in Shining Armor
- National Geographic Kids – Knights & Castles Sticker Activity Book
- A Year in a Castle
Use Our Stibbert Museum Scavenger Hunt
Bring our scavenger hunt and let your kids find some of the more unique and interesting-to-kids items in the museum.
On the scavenger hunt:
- Japanese war mask with turtle
- Antique toilet
- Frederick’s bed
- 2 Brides – from India and China
- War drums
- Copy of the Mona Lisa
- Medici shield
- Napolean’s clothing
- Favorite suit of armor
- Flag from Siena
- Lapis Lazuli
Have a Picnic or Snack in the Garden
The Stibbert Museum has its own garden (Giardino del Museo Stibbert), which is nice on a hot day, because there’s plenty of shade. The connected Baden Powell Garden (Giardini Baden Powell) has tons of green space and plenty of benches, picnic tables, and places to sit on the ground for a picnic.
It’s best to get supplies from a grocery store or market before you get to the museum. That way, you can just walk out of the museum and straight into the garden for your picnic.
Good To Know: If you’ve got a stroller with you, you can zig-zag down the paths to the Stibbert Garden, but I prefer to head back to the street and into the street entrance to the Baden Powell Garden. It’s paved and easier to visit with a stroller.
Good To Know: There’s also a bar well-stocked with child-favorites like packaged gelato, potato chips, and candy. You pass through it as you exit the museum. If you want to avoid temptation, make sure you have snacks with you that you can offer to your little ones as you exit. If you need a coffee, now’s your chance!
Spend Time at the Giardini Baden Powell Playground
Walk to main road to get to playground, frequented by Florentine families and children.
The playground is small but there are swings, baby swings, see-saws, a slide, and a lot of green space. Next to the playground is a fitness circuit and older kids like swinging from the bars. There is a lot of space to run around, and parents can rest on benches or in the shade. As a parent, I appreciate that the playground is fenced.
Good To Know: There’s a drinking fountain at the entrance of the playground.
Getting to the Stibbert Museum
The Stibbert Museum is about 2.5 kilometers from Florence’s Duomo, and there are a few ways to reach the museum from the historic center:
Walk – Depending on if you have your kids in a stroller or if they’re walking, expect it to take between 30 to 60 minutes to walk to the museum.
Bus – There are a few options, depending on where you decide to begin your journey from in the center. None drop you off right in front of the museum – but you can get to within a 5-minute walk.
Tram – Take the T1 tram toward Careggi and get off at the Muratori stop. You’ll still have a one-kilometer walk (about 15 minutes).
Taxi – This is one of the simplest options, but remember that taxis don’t have car seats.
Drive – If you’re coming from outside Florence, you can drive and park on the streets near the museum. It can be tough to find parking on the road in front of the museum (via Federico Stibbert / via di Montughi) – it’s kind of narrow and on a hill. Don’t worry – the museum isn’t in a ZTL.
Things to Do With Kids Near the Stibbert Museum
Giardini Baden Powell Playground – After running around the Stibbert Gardens, make your way to the adjacent park and its playground.
Orti del Parnasso – In Florence’s Horticulture Garden (Giardino dell’Orticoltura), have your kids find the enormous serpent (or dragon) statue that looks down on the Florence city center. Enjoy the views and stop for a snack on one of the benches.
Stibbert Museum Contact Info
Via Federigo Stibbert, 26
Hours and Ticket Info: See official website for up-to-date info
Stibbert Museum with Kids FAQ
No, you can’t try on the armour at the Stibbert Museum, but you can get up close! There are traditional sets of European armour, as well as Islamic Armour and Japanese Samurai Armour.