• Maria Malichoutsaki

5+1 museums to visit in Milan

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

First time in Milan and don't know where to begin? Here are my suggestions!

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Photo: Malichoutsaki

You are probably familiar with Milan as the capital of fashion and design but the city has actually a very dynamic presence in arts and culture. The city is full of museums that serve every taste; archaeological museums, contemporary art institutions, blockbuster exhibitions, cultural hubs.


Having spent a considerable period living in Milan, during my Master's studies, I can brag not only for knowing the best aperitivo spots in town but generally knowing the city pretty well. What I consider as one of the biggest advantages of Milan is the size of the city that allows you to walk around. If you prefer you can also take the subway that includes convenient stops to most of the city's sightseeing highlights.


My top museum recommendations:


Fondazione Prada

A little bit further away from the touristic center, based in an industrial zone. The old original distillery from the 1910s and the entire zone sets the perfect scenery for a dynamic dialogue between the contemporary art collection and the industrial architecture.

Jeff Koons, Tulips, 1995-2004, Fondazione Prada. Photo: Malichoutsaki

The Foundation's vision exceeds the housing of the luxury brand's rich collection and becomes a gradual project of "gentrification" for the entire industrial zone, giving new vibes to the whole neighborhood.


In the exhibition spaces you will find works by Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, William N. Copley and Carsten Höller, among others.


Fondazione Prada’s Milan venue reopened to the public on June 5, 2020.

The exhibition spaces are open from Friday to Sunday, from 10 am to 7 pm.

*Please note: Hours and days might be subject to change due to COVID-19 epidemiological emergency. Advice the museum's website before your visit.



Pirelli Hangar Bicocca

Located outside the city center, but totally worths the trip especially if you are an admirer of contemporary art.

Mario Merz, Senza Titolo, 1998, Pirelli Hangar Bicocca. Photo: Malichoutsaki

Its very impressive gallery space covers 15,000 square meters, making it one of the largest contiguous exhibition spaces in Europe. This is something that provides the ability to host large-scale artworks and site-specific installations, such as the museum's highlight, and a personal favorite, made by Anselm Kiefer's, The Seven Heavenly Palaces.


Open from Friday to Sunday, from 10:30 am to 8:30 pm.

*Please note: Hours and days might be subject to change due to COVID-19 epidemiological emergency. Advice the museum's website before your visit.



Anselm Kiefer, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, 2004-2015, Pirelli Hangar Bicocca. Photo: Malichoutsaki

Pinacoteca di Brera

If you are particularly interested in Italian art then the collection of Pinacoteca di Brera won't leave you disappointed. Located in one of the most elegant neighborhoods in the heart of Milan and housed in the Palazzo Brera, it's the perfect culture stop before your Sunday's brunch.


The Palazzo hosts also the Brera Library, the Astronomic Observatory, the Botanical Garden, the Lombard Institute for Science and Art, and the Academy of Fine Arts.

Open Conservation Lab, Pinacoteca di Brera. Photo: Malichoutsaki

Here you'll see the popular painting The Kiss by Francesco Hayez and the Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Andrea Mantegna among other masterpieces.


Don't forget to have a look at the Visible Conservation Laboratory that stands in the heart of the exhibition space, and have the chance to learn more about the science of conservation. If you're lucky enough you might also see the conservators "in action".


Open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9.30 am to 6.30 pm (last entrance at 5.00pm).

Closed on Mondays.

*During the first days of reopening post-lockdown, the Pinacoteca di Brera offers its public free access with compulsory booking, which will be valid throughout the summer, replicable several times.

*Please note: Hours and days might be subject to change due to COVID-19 epidemiological emergency. Advice the museum's website before your visit.



Palazzo Reale

There's no way you visit Milan without walking in front of the Palazzo Reale. Its location is perfect, in the heart of the tourist center, in Piazza Duomo.


Palazzo Reale is an exhibition space, famous for its blockbuster exhibitions. The Palace its self has a very long history, from the Sforza dynasty to Napoleon and from the plague to the bombardments, counting more than ten centuries of existence. The Palazzo's presence was always strongly connected to the history of the city.


Palazzo Reale. Photo: Malichoutsaki

The interior decorations of the palace create the perfect dialogue between the artworks and the building. The impressive architectural elements cannot be unnoticed, to the extent that sometimes they overshadow the exhibits.


The exhibitions are designed based on the latest museological standards in order to provide you a unique visitor's experience.


New opening Hours

Thursday from 11.00 am to 22.30 pm, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 11.00 am to 19.30 pm. Last admission one hour before closing time.

*Currently the reservation and the pre-purchase of the ticket are necessary for your visit.

*Please note: Hours and days might be subject to change due to COVID-19 epidemiological emergency. Advice the Palazzo Reale website before your visit.



Museo del Novecento

Right next to Palazzo Reale you'll find the Museo del Novecento. A museum dedicated to the 20th-century Italian art.

Neon structure, Lucio Fontana. Photo: Malichoutsaki

In the interior, its characteristic spiral staircase will definitely capture your attention.


Established in 2010 and located inside the Palazzo dell’Arengario in Piazza Duomo it is one of the dynamic constituents of the Milanese cultural scene.


Here you'll find masterpieces of the 20th-century Italian art, such as the Il Quarto Stato (The Fourth Estate) by Pellizza da Volpedo and the Neon structure created for the IX Milan Triennale in 1951 by Lucio Fontana.


Museum café. Photo: Malichoutsaki

Don't forget to have a break, after, or during your visit, for a coffee or lunch at the museum's rooftop café-restaurant, located on the top of the building, and enjoy the amazing view to Piazza Duomo.


Currently open only on Saturday and Sunday, from 11.00 am to 18.00 pm.

Last admission one hour before closing time.



*Please note: Hours and days might be subject to change due to COVID-19 epidemiological emergency. Advice the museum's website before your visit.



Duomo

This last suggestion might not be a museum, but you cannot leave Milan without having visited the landmark of the city. The gothic style architecture and the sculpture details of the cathedral will definitely impress you.

Duomo. Photo: Malichoutsaki

The construction of the cathedral began, most likely, in 1386. In the interior, you will admire also the art of glassmaking that characterizes the stained glasses, one of the most impressive elements of the monument.


Tip: Choose a sunny day for your visit, so you can walk and enjoy the view from the rooftop of the cathedral.


Opening Hours:

Cathedral and Archaeological Area: from 9 am to 6 pm. Last entrance at 5.10 pm.

Rooftops: from 9 am to 7 pm. Last entrance at 6.10 pm.

From Friday to Sunday, until 8 pm. Last entrance at 7.10 pm.

Duomo terraces by lift: from Friday to Sunday, from 10 am to 6 pm.

The descent is possible with the stairs only.

Museum: from 10 am to 6 pm. Last entrance at 5.10 pm. Closed on Wednesdays.

*It's highly recommended to purchase your tickets online.

*Please note: Hours and days might be subject to change due to COVID-19 epidemiological emergency. Advice the official website before your visit.


Even if your visit is short and you don't manage to see all the above during your stay you will definitely feel the artistic and cultural vibes all over the city.


-M


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