The Biccherne Museum is housed in the State Archives in Siena, which is located inside Palazzo Piccolomini, an immensely elegant building in and of itself thanks to its Florentine Renaissance style.
The term biccherna comes from the name of the chancellery of finance for the municipality of Siena, the Biccherna, which starting in the 1200s began to request unique covers for their administrative registers. These books were decorated by some of the most important Sienese artists. Soon, other organizations, like the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, the Gabella, the Concistorio and the local government, began to commission precious covers for their own inventories and bill books.
The museum houses a collection of around 100 painted tablets that date from the 1300s to 1700s. The importance of these artworks lies also in their historic value: with these decorative tablets, which are arranged chronologically, visitors can examine the evolution of Siena’s culture of imagery.
The museum has three itineraries designed for three different ways of approaching the biccherne: visitors can choose to look at them by painter, the theme of the writings or subject, which are either of political or religious nature.