Milan Museums and Galleries
Largo Isarco, 2, Morivione
A combination of seven older buildings and three new ones in Porta Romana create this center of contemporary art and culture, all masterminded by Rem Koolhaas and opened in 2015. You’ll find a solid collection of twentieth- and twenty-first-century artworks by the likes of Louise Bourgeois and Anish Kapoor, a cinema showing art house and vintage films, a creative space (designed in conjunction with a neuropediatrician) for kids, and one of Milan’s best bookstores. There’s also, of course, the Wes Anderson–designed Bar Luce—a 1950s-style Milanese café that’s alone worth a visit.
Via Bergognone, 40, Zona Tortona
Giorgio Armani opened this cultural hub just a few years ago to celebrate his fortieth anniversary in the fashion business. The “Silos” aspect of the name pays homage to the building’s former life as a grain-storage facility, but the space now holds hundreds of pieces of Armani apparel and accessories that, in their own way, chart how fashion is influenced by society over the decades. Clothing aside, the museum regularly hosts exhibitions of photography and film. The courtyard has a pleasant café for a coffee break after a look around.
Museo Poldi Pezzoli
Via Alessandro Manzoni, 12, Brera
Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli fell in love with the idea of the house-as-museum on his grand tour of Europe in the early 1800s. What is now the Victoria & Albert museum in London—with rooms representing different time periods—left an especially strong impression. The museum is in a neoclassical palazzo that feels like an endless cave of treasures: There are tapestries, armor, paintings, and sculpture, and the radically different décor and genre of each room make this one of the most fascinating museums in the city. We especially like the Dante room, which features an intricately detailed stained-glass window, scenes from The Inferno, and a portrait of the author himself.
Casa degli Atellani
Corso Magenta, 65, San Vittore
This large villa came to the Atellani family via a donation from the Duke of Milan in the late 1400s. The family wasted no time transforming the property into Milan’s party house of the period (Leonardo da Vinci actually stayed there while painting The Last Supper), and its magnificence is still (basically) intact. An audio guide accompanies you through the many rooms filled with paintings and antiques that belonged to the family. The surrounding gardens and vineyard are great for strolling through after a cappuccino and pastry at the café.
Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera
Via Brera, 28, Brera
This beautiful seventeenth-century building is still a functioning university, but thanks to its significant inventory of cultural loot, it also operates as a museum, known as the Pinacoteca di Brera. The site started as a convent but opened as a museum in 1809. Nowadays, it’s home to Milan’s primary collection of paintings, with pieces you’ll probably recognize from your art history textbook—Raphael’s Marriage of the Virgin, Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus—as well as more modern works by artists like Modigliani. After browsing the galleries, take a stroll through the on-site botanical gardens.
Fondazione Prada Milan
Largo Isarco, 2, Ticinese
Those heading to Venice this summer for the Biennale might consider making a quick pit-stop in Milan for Miuccia Prada and husband Patrizio Bertelli’s brand new arts compound, which opened earlier this month. A little off the beaten path from the fashionable side of town, it’s worth the trip to the industrial ex-distillery for a full day’s enjoyment courtesy of the Pradas and architect Rem Koolhaas’s firm OMA. The three new buildings—one of which is painted gold—reference Italy’s architectural past and are dispersed through the elegantly restrained complex. It’s the sort of place where you just sort of wander around: You might come across the whimsical Wes Anderson-designed Bar Luce, chance upon the Prada’s own stunning collection of contemporary works from John Baldessari to Jeff Koons, discover the site’s ‘Haunted House’ (and a recent commission by Robert Gober), or take in the heady opening exhibition, Serial Classic, which explores the Roman tradition of copying Greek originals. Photo: Bas Prinzen. Courtesy Fondazione Prada.
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