The Uffizi Gallery is the chief public gallery of Florence. The nucleus of the collection derives from the collections of the Medici family, and the Uffizi Palace was begun by Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany. The ground floor housed government offices (Italian uffizi), hence the building's name. In 1565 Vasari built the corridor over the Ponte Vecchio connecting the Uffizi with the Pitti Palace. Subsequently the building has been much altered, enlarged, and restored (it was damaged in the Second World War and by flooding in 1966). The last of the Medici line, Maria Ludovica, Grand Duchess of Tuscany, bequeathed the family collections to the State of Tuscany in 1737, and in 1789 they were reorganized to allow regular public visiting.
In the 19th century, the Uffizi was subjected to radical reorganization. Much archaeological material was placed in the Archaeological Museum in the Palazzo della Crocetta, while the medieval and Renaissance sculpture and the rich collection of applied art were transferred to the Bargello. The Uffizi collection on the other hand was enriched by early Italian paintings resulting from suppressions of churches and monasteries and confiscations of religious property. Although it is primarily famous for its incomparable representation of Florentine Renaissance painting, the Uffizi also has outstanding works from other Italian and non-Italian schools (for example, Hugo van der Goes's Portinari Altarpiece) and important examples of antique sculpture. The collection of prints and drawings in the Gabinetto dei Disegni e Stampe is one of the finest in the world, and the gallery of artists' self-portraits, begun by Cardinal Leopoldo de' Medici in the 17th century, is unrivalled.
You can find more information on the Galleria degli Uffizi at its home page.
Recommended viewing from the collection:
The Web Gallery of Art contains 855 images of artworks exhibited in the Uffizi. From these images