Milan – Museums (Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Pinacoteca di Brera, Castello Sforzesco)

Hello everyone! In this post I’m gonna introduce to you 5 museums in Milan and I believe each of them has some masterpieces that you’ve heard of and you wanna see. For example,

  1. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Atlantic Code”, “Portrait of a Musician”, Raffaella Sanzio’s original “Preparatory Cartoon of the Athens School” and Michelangelo Merisi’s “The Basket of Fruit” in Biblioteca Ambrosiana.
  2. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Sala delle Asse” and Michelangelo’s last piece of work “The Pietà Rondanini” in Castello Sforzesco.
  3. Raffaella Sanzio’s (Raphael) “The Marriage of the Virgin” and Francesco Hayez’s “The Kiss” in Pinacoteca di Brera.
  4. Luigi Querena’s “Processione all’interno del Colosseo” and Angelo Morbelli’s “Sogno e realtà” in Gallerie di Piazza Scala.
  5. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” in Santa Maria delle Grazie.

From my experience I strongly recommend Biblioteca Ambrosiana although it’s forbidden to take photos. Now I’ll introduce to you the museums and I’ll start with the one I think you should definitely visit – the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.

Pinacoteca Ambrosiana

The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana was established in April 1618, when Cardinal Federico Borromeo donated his collection of paintings, drawings and statues to the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, which he had founded in 1607.

Inside the Pinacoteca’s expositive path, articulated in 24 rooms, we can admire some of the greatest masterpieces of all times, like “The Musician” by Leonardo, “The Basket of Fruit” by Caravaggio, The cartoon for the “School of Athens” by Raphael , the “Adoration of the Magi” by Titian, the “Madonna del Padiglione” by Sandro Botticelli and the magnificent “Vases of Flowers” by Jan Brueghel.

The pictures shown below are not my pictures as you can’t take photos inside this museum. They are all from here and here.

The pictures listed above are

  1. “Madonna del Padiglione” by Sandro Botticelli
  2. “The Basket of Fruit” by Caravaggio
  3. “The Musician” by Leonardo
  4. “Saint John the Baptist” by Salaino
  5. “Preliminary cartoon for the School of Athens” by Raphael
  6. “Vespino – Last Supper” by Andrea Bianchi
  7. Last not but least, The Codex Atlanticus (Atlantic Codex). It is a twelve-volume, bound set of drawings and writings (in Italian language) by Leonardo da Vinci, the largest such set. Its name indicates its atlas-like breadth. It comprises 1,119 leaves dating from 1478 to 1519, the contents covering a great variety of subjects, from flight to weaponry to musical instruments and from mathematics to botany.

In addition to Renaissance artworks, the museum’s collections include paintings by important 17th century Lombard artists (like Morazzone, Giulio Cesare Procaccini, Daniele Crespi and Carlo Francesco Nuvolone) as well as 18th century artists like Giandomenico Tiepolo, Fra’ Galgario, Francesco Londonio, and also a notable cluster of 19th and early 20th centuries authors like Andrea Appiani, Francesco Hayez and Emilio Longoni. Walking from a room to another you can also discover a series of genuine curiosities, like the gloves that Napoleon wore at Waterloo, the armillary spheres from the Settala Collection, or the case that keeps a lock of Lucrezia Borgia’s hair, in front of which many famous poets like Gabriele D’Annunzio and Lord Byron came to take inspiration.

Opening hours and ticket prices

  1. Opening hours: From Tuesday to Sunday 10.00 am – 06.00 pm. Closed on Monday, New Year’s Day, Easter Day, May 1st and Christmas Day.
  2. Tickets: I remember the full price ticket is 12 Euros (likely) and if you are EU citizen between 18-25 you get reduced price. There’s basically no line when I was there so I think you can buy tickets on site. I can’t find the official price online because the page is in Italian. However, if you speak Italian please click here to check the official website.

Castello Sforzesco

Sforza Castle (Castello Sforzesco) was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, on the remains of a 14th-century fortification. Later renovated and enlarged, in the 16th and 17th centuries it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. Extensively rebuilt by Luca Beltrami in 1891–1905, it now houses several of the city’s museums and art collections.

As I mentioned above, what you can’t miss are Leonardo da Vinci’s “Sala delle Asse” and Michelangelo’s last piece of work “The Pietà Rondanini”. However, as for Leonardo da Vinci’s “Sala delle Asse”, I doubt you can see it clearly……

Sala delle Asse

A remarkable record of the presence of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) at the Sforza Court, the Sala delle Asse (Room of Wooden Boards) is the most iconic room in the castle. This decorative work is second only to the Last Supper for the scope of its ambition. The room owes its name to the wooden wall covering that was used at the time of the Sforzas to render the temperature and ambience of the rooms more comfortable. Formerly painted with heraldic motifs for Galeazzo Sforza, under Ludovico il Moro in 1498 it was transformed by Leonardo’s renowned decoration. Written messages between il Moro and the Renaissance genius pointed to the existence of the work, however, the dark centuries of foreign domination seemed to have consigned the cycle of paintings to oblivion. It is thanks to research by the architect Luca Beltrami and especially the German historian Paul Müller-Valde that we owe the discovery in 1893 of significant traces of colour on the ceiling of the room. A comprehensive restoration carried out by Ernesto Rusca ensued in 1902, which reinterpreted the 15th century decoration with extraordinarily vivid colours. At the time the decision was also taken to hide the monochrome sections that were erroneously dated to the period of the Spanish occupation. In the 1950s the colours were attenuated without otherwise altering the previous restoration. In addition, BBPR studio, responsible for the intervention, decided to uncover the monochrome fragments depicting rocks and roots on the north and north-east walls that had since been attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. Situated on the first floor of the Falconiera tower on the north-east corner of the castle, the Sala delle Asse is Room VIII of the Museum of Antique Art.

The Pietà Rondanini

The last incomplete work by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), the Pietà is a meditation on death and the salvation of the soul. In this work the sculptor discards the perfection of the human body and its heroic beauty and transforms the dead Christ into an emblem of suffering. The physical arrangement of Mary and Jesus, the mother’s head above that of the son, is suggestive of various moments of the life of Christ: the deposition from the cross, the burial and even the resurrection, in the dissolution of Christ’s body in the mother’s embrace. Left incomplete due to the death of Michelangelo, the Pietà is a testament to the last period of the great master’s creative genius.

Opening hours and ticket prices

For more info about the opening hours and various ticket prices of the castle and the museums please click here.

Pinacoteca di Brera

I wanted to visit this museum to have a look at Raffaella Sanzio’s (Raphael) “The Marriage of the Virgin” and Francesco Hayez’s “The Kiss”. However “The Kiss” by Hayez was on loan at that time so I didn’t enter. Luckily it was on loan because an exhibition of Hayez’s painting going on in Gallerie di Piazza Scala. I guess this was the fortunate in the unfortunate, otherwise I would never have seen so many of Hayez’s paintings in one museum.

However, normally his painting “The Kiss” should be here so if you wanna have a look it and some other works such as “The Dead Christ and Three Mourners” by Andrea Mantegna, “The Marriage of the Virgin” by Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael), “Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio” (Michelangelo Merisi) and “Human Flood” by Pellizza Da Volpedo (Giuseppe Pellizza) etc., you will have to come here. Remember, the entrance is on the second floor. You should see the stairs once you enter the main gate.

Opening hours and ticket prices

  1. If you wanna know more about the opening hours please click here.
  2. If you wanna know more about the ticket prices please click here.

Gallerie di Piazza Scala

The Gallerie di Piazza Scala (or Gallerie d’Italia – Piazza Scala) is a modern and contemporary museum, located in Piazza della Scala in the Palazzo Brentani and the Palazzo Anguissola. It hosts 195 artworks from the collections of Fondazione Cariplo with a strong representation of nineteenth century Lombard painters and sculptors, including Antonio Canova and Boccioni. A new section was opened in the Palazzo della Banca Commerciale Italiana on October 25, 2012 with 189 art works from the twentieth century.

However, this museum wasn’t actually on my list when I visited Milan as Im not a fan of modern and contemporary art. Since there’s an exhibition of Hayez, I had to go, and this was a great choice as I saw so many painting by Hayez. Below are the pictures and names of them.

  1. Self Portrait in a Group of Friends
  2. Il Bagno
  3. Il Bagno
  4. Il Bagno
  5. Portrait, Antonietta Vitali Sola
  6. Last Kiss of Romeo and Juliet
  7. Mary Magdalene
  8. Ritratto di Alessandro Manzoni
  9. Melancholy thinking
  10. Portrait, Matilde Juva-Branca
  11. Portrait, Young Countess Antonietta Negroni Prati Morosini
  12. Self Portrait with Tiger and Lion
  13. Odalisque
  14. Portrait, Don Giulio Vigoni as a Child
  15. Bathing Bathsheba
  16. Il Consiglio alla Vendetta
  17. Last Moments of Doge Marin Faliero
  18. Portrait, Ballerina Carlotta Chabert as Venus
  19. Secret accusation
  20. Un Pensiero Malinconico

Since I visited this museum, there are some works, that I checked online, are masterpieces. Please have a look at the pictures below.

Opening hours and ticket prices

  1. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30 to 19.30 (last admission 18.30). Thursday from 9.30 to 22.30 (last admission 21.30). Monday closed.
  2. Tickets: Full price 5,00 €.  Reduced price 3,00 €
  3. For more info about special opening hours, tickets prices or group tickets please click here. (Only in Italian)

Santa Maria delle Grazie (the “Last Supper”)

To be honest, I don’t recommend buying tickets and visiting the “Last Supper” as first of all, you need to book in advance (at least months from the official website and maybe there are tickets left from some other booking agencies but you need to pay more), secondly, the ticket is expensive (12 Euros and even more expensive considering the booking fee etc.). Thirdly, it’s very likely the painting is gonna be as unclear as this……But! If you are really enthusiastic about the “Last Supper”, here is the official website for booking the tickets and, good luck.


Those are the museums I went to or want to share with because you might be interested in some of their artworks. I wish you one or two artistic days in Milan. 🙂

Milan – Museums (Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Pinacoteca di Brera, Castello Sforzesco) was last modified: January 17th, 2017 by Dong

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