The Museum offers visitors three different theme-based exhibitionsfocusing on History, Architecture and Art –which together create a unified narrative transmitted through the documents preserved in the historical archive, the spaces where the children lived and the works of the artists that have helped to make this home for children beautiful and welcoming.

The Museum visit begins with the historical section, which provides insights into the history of the Innocenti Institute, which is linked to the general history of assistance services in Italy, while also describing the daily life within the Institute. The visit is introduced by two multimedia presentations that outline how assistance was provided in 15th century Florence and that explain the exceptional nature of the Institute, the first to provide assistance exclusively to abandoned children, and how the monumental complex developed. In this way the visitor can fully appreciate how the building became what it is today. The history of the institution is then described, mainly through works of art, all the way down to 1875, the year when abandoned children were no longer taken in. The museum visit then describes the daily life of the boys and girls, providing a description of the initial common forms of assistance given to all children and then how the lives of the 60 children housed there unfolded, based on the documents collected in the Innocenti Institute's historical archive. One hundred and forty small showcases display 19th century child identifiers, various kinds of small objects: medals, coins, rings, clips, saintly images, small crosses, coloured glass rosary beads, buttons, and pieces of fabric which were often left with the child to enable the future recognition of the children by their parents. Selected biographies, constructed after years of research, appear on four touch screens beside the display cases containing the identifiers. The visitor can read a biography of each child, further historical considerations stemming from an issue raised the biographies and a few digitally reproduced documents that have been transcribed and can be read directly using a digital magnifying class. These documents tell the story of the children who lived in the Hospital between 1419 and 1875. We start off with Agata Smeralda, the first child left at the Innocenti Institute on 5 February 1445, and end with Ultimo Lasciati, the last child to be accepted before the grated window closed on the night of 29 June 1875. The historical reconstruction ends with the presentation of the last quarter of the 19th century (1875 - 1900. From Hospital to Orphanage) which describes the modernisation of the institution after the grated window closed, documented in 1900 by an outstanding photographic survey commissioned from the Giacomo Brogi Agency, as part of a presentation of the Institute for the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1900. These images are displayed in two installations, where visitors can engage with the spaces and see photo portraits of the people and also flick through digital albums to find out about the various aspects of the institution in 1900. The visit ends with a description of the Institute during the 20th century, narrated through archive material and first-hand video interviews of people closely connected to it. The final part then describes the role performed by the Institute today as a Public Service Agency providing services for individuals and committed to promoting the rights of children and adolescents, as guaranteed by UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Institute now organises educational and reception services, offers training opportunities and carries out research and provides documentation to institutions that are engaged in developing and improving policies for children and adolescents.
One of the Innocenti Museum's exhibitions deals with architecture, describing the evolution of the monumental complex and the various activities performed in the different spaces over time. The visit includes the front Portico and the monumental courtyards; the Men's and Women's Courtyards, which have always been the focal point of the institution, places that today are known for their beauty but that for centuries were where the abandoned children lived their lives and where hundreds of children to this day benefit from the educational services provided by the Institute. The long history of the Innocenti complex begins in 1419, with the construction of the portico and the two symmetrical buildings of the church and the children's living quarters, based on a design by Filippo Brunelleschi, who personally oversaw construction until 1427. Brunelleschi developed a new architectural language for the first major hospital exclusively for abandoned children, which combined simplicity and rigour, and can be seen as the starting point of Renaissance architecture. The building has columns and round arches, inspired by classical architecture, whose dimensions are related to each other by mathematical formulae. Brunelleschi's original design included a simple sloping roof over the arches in the Men's Courtyard. But in 1470 a windowed gallery was built over the columns, which in 1590 was decorated with the emblem of the Silk Guild, the patron of the Hospital (the Door) and the symbols of the older hospitals in San Gallo and Santa Maria della Scala (the Cock and the Ladder) which merged with the Innocenti over the course of the 15th and 16th centuries. The space adjoining the inner complex to the Santissima Annunziata square was embellished by the portico that runs the entire length of the building and is Brunelleschi's great new addition to the hospital façade. This architectural concept was of such importance that it influenced the later development of the square, which now boasts the Serviti portico, built facing the Innocenti building in the 16th century and the Santissima Annunziata portico completed in the early days of the 17th century. Also in this instance Brunelleschi's project was amended on several occasions. In 1440 Francesco della Luna raised the façade by one floor and created the spaces that host the Museum Gallery today. In 1487, Andrea della Robbia added the glazed terracotta roundels featuring robed Cherubs. When the Innocenti officially began taking in children in 1445, people handed them over by leaving them in a stone bowl known as the ‘pila’, which was initially located under the portico, in front of what is now the Brunelleschi Hall. In the 16th century the ‘pila’ was set inside a window and a grate was added so that only new born babies, the only ones the Innocenti accepted, could be left, while older children were entrusted to other institutions throughout the city. In 1660, the ‘grated window’ was finally moved to its current location. In 1439 Francesco della Luna completed the second courtyard, known as the Women's courtyard. The lives of the women in the hospital took place in the areas that that looked onto this courtyard. In 1493 a covered terrace was built over the courtyard, known as the Verone, where the cloths and the swaddling bands that were washed every day were hung out to dry. This space continued to be used as a drying area until 1895, the year when it was first used by the wet nurses and the children as a play area, following the installation of a new steam driven drying area in the gallery above the façade. The Verone is part of the museum spaces and contains the Verone Café.
The third level of the Museum comprises the art section, located in where the children and wet nurses, were housed and contains the most important part of the artistic heritage still preserved at the Innocenti, highlighting the role art always played in the history of the institution. The gallery displays the most important works found in the Museum, arranged in chronological order. These include pieces by Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Bartolomeo di Giovanni, Piero di Cosimo, Neri di Bicci, Luca della Robbia and Giovanni del Biondo. The wet nurse rooms host the section given over to religious themes and places of worship. The collection includes works that were commissioned directly and others of unknown origin, along with works inherited from other care institutions such as ones donated by the Orbatello Hospice (the Giovanni del Biondo triptych, the Giovanni di Francesco Toscani triptych and the David Ghirlandaio altar piece) on Via della Pergola in Florence, at first a home for old women and widows with small children and later a ‘secret pregnancy’ refuge, for women who had to hide their pregnancy and needed a safe haven until they gave birth. Among the most important works in the collection is the Madonna and Child with an Angel by Sandro Botticelli. The painting - influenced by the famous Madonna with Child by Filippo Lippi - has been at the Hospital since the mid-19th century. Another work of considerable significance is the Madonna with Child by Luca della Robbia, painted around 1445, the year when the institute was officially opened. The sculpture was supposed to grace the side altar of the small private church used by the women’s community and be a special object of worship for the young girls and the wet nurses. The final hall displays the Innocenti Institute’s most celebrated works, arranged according to their original position on 15th century altars, the Adoration of the Magi by Domenico Ghirlandaio, so full of meaning for the place that it was kept in the most important location in the church for many centuries and the seven stories of the predella by Bartolomeo di Giovanni, a young and faithful collaborator of the Ghirlandaio workshop. On the left stands a work by Piero di Cosimo, Madonna with Child on a throne with saints and on the right the Coronation by Neri di Bicci. Among the other works on show we should mention the Madonna on the throne with Child and angels, worshipped by the young girls of the Poppi, a piece connected to the Hospital's female community where young children, damsels, girls and older women are arranged at the foot of the Virgin Mary, and provide an indication of the various roles played by women in the Hospital, and the splendid 14th century wooden Cross, which has now been restored to its ancient beauty.