In 1452, Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise were installed on the east doors of the Florence Baptistery. Facing the so-called “Paradiso” between the Baptistery and the city’s Cathedral and occupying both a liminal “space” in the religious and secular rite of baptism and a cultural “space” as a major work of art, the Gates remained in that location until the late twentieth century. They were then replaced by modern copies, the original panels of the Gates were restored, and the entire work of art was reinstalled as part of the newly conceived and constructed Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. Drawing on the methodologies of formal, iconographic, and historical analyses from art history and the methodologies of content analysis and ritual studies from anthropology, this Senior Independent Study describes and analyses the Gates and their two major contexts from the Renaissance to the present: their original location on the Baptistery and their reinstallation in a modern museum environment. The I.S. advances the conclusion that rather than being entirely separate moments and embodying separate meaning in the history of the Gates, the original context and the museum environment share a combination of purpose and reception of the Gates as both a significant work of art and a centerpiece of liminal ritual. That ritual was first of a religious/civic nature at the Baptistery and is now of a cultural, quasi-religious nature in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.


Morrow, Kara

Second Advisor

Frese, Pamela


Art and Art History; Sociology and Anthropology


Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture | Museum Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology


Lorenzo Ghiberti, Gates of Paradise, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence, Baptistery, Liminality, Ritual

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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