The Top 18 Art Galleries To Visit in Milan

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Raphaele Varley

Milan was at the centre of some of Europe’s most historically significant art movements – from 14th-century Gothic art under the Visconti family, to Futurism at the beginning of the 20th century – and today it is an important player in the international contemporary scene. Following the early lead of the House of Medici, Italy is committed to preserving and proliferating its rich art history, and this is reflected in the diversity of both its old and new art galleries in Milan.

1. Pinacoteca di Brera

Art Gallery, Architectural Landmark

Inside of Pinacoteca di Brera art gallery, featuring a corridor of impressive hanging paintings, Milan, Italy
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The Pinacoteca di Brera is a major public museum housed in a palazzo in the Brera district. It originated as a gallery to host the most important works of art from areas conquered by the French armies. Today, it is a celebrated art collection in Italy with a special focus on Venetian and Lombard paintings from artists like Giovanni Bellini and Tintoretto. Many of the works were looted from churches and convents, which explains the predominance of religious themes. Over the centuries, the museum has grown its collection to include a strong modern wing with pieces from Umberto Boccioni, Amedeo Modigliani and Gino Severini. Highlight masterpieces include Raphael’s The Marriage of the Virgin (1504) and Francesco Hayez’s The Kiss (1859). Admission is free every first Sunday of the month.

2. Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco

Art Gallery

Castello Sforzesco, Piazza Castello, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy
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The picture gallery at Castello Sforzesco (one of the many museums housed within the castle grounds) originated in 1878, and over the centuries has been enriched by major donations. It now comprises over 1,500 paintings that date from the 13th century to the 18th century, including masterpieces by the likes of Bronzino, Tintoretto and Titian. A large section of the space is dedicated to Lombard’s late Gothic paintings, reflective of the patronage of Milan’s Visconti and Sforza dynasties. Collection highlights include Vincenzo Foppa’s Madonna del Libro (1475) and Canaletto’s The Pier Towards Riva degli Schiavoni with the Column of Saint Mark (before 1742). Spread across six halls, just 230 works from the collection are on display at one time, which makes for a very manageable visit.

3. Museo Novecento

Art Gallery, Museum

Museo del Novecento, Piazza del Duomo, Milaan, Italië
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Just a short walk from the Duomo, this gallery houses a remarkable collection of 20th-century art with a particular emphasis on Italian artists. More than 400 works are displayed chronologically, giving visitors an excellent introduction to modern Italian art history. It begins in 1902 and travels through Futurism, Novecento, Abstraction, Art Informel, leaders of the 1950s and 1960s (including an entire floor dedicated to Lucio Fontana, the sculptor known as the founder of Spatialism), Arte Povera and finishes with Pop Art. The museum also pays tribute to other international avant-garde art movements, so you can also view masterpiece works from Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian.

4. Leonardo3

Museum

Despite being more museum than art gallery, this impressive collection dedicated solely to the life and works of Leonardo da Vinci should place high on any art lover’s to-do list. See working models of his many incredible creations, and digital restorations of his most famous paintings, not to mention countless morsels of information about one of history’s great creators. Recommended by Gethin Morgan.

5. Fondazione Prada

Art Gallery, Cinema

Fondazione Prada, Milano, Italy
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The architecture of Fondazione Prada distinguishes it above all other modern and contemporary art venues in the city. Designed by the OMA architecture studio led by Rem Koolhaas, the site marries existing industrial distillery buildings with esoteric new spaces, including a tower clad in gold leaf. Visit the permanent collection or temporary exhibitions to see art by leading artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as Louise Bourgeois, Dan Flavin and Anish Kapoor. The arts centre also houses a cinema and a kitsch Milanese-American café designed by film director Wes Anderson.

6. Pirelli HangarBicocca

Museum

Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milano, Italy
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Located in an otherwise unremarkable area in the outskirts of north Milan, Pirelli HangarBicocca is a much-loved not-for-profit venue. The gallery is in a vast, repurposed industrial plant, which provides great scope and flexibility for its presentations. The scale of the building allows for the gallery to specialise in major installation pieces and exhibitions of large-scale work. For example, past works have included Lucio Fontana’s environments or Carsten Höller’s sensory 2016 presentation Doubt, which featured over 20 monumental works. Anselm Kiefer’s The Seven Heavenly Palaces (2004–2015) was commissioned on the occasion of the gallery’s opening in 2004 and is permanently on view. The space also runs an education programme, offering young visitors a creative entry point to the work on view. The sleek on-site restaurant has a shaded patio, which is ideal for lounging if you visit during the summer months. Entry is free.

7. Museo delle Culture di Milano (MUDEC)

Museum

Neon stairs at the Museo delle Culture di Milano, Italy
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Designed by architect David Chipperfield, MUDEC is a visually striking cultural museum located in the hip southwesterly neighbourhood Zona Tortona. It stages wider historical and cultural exhibitions on topics such as ancient Egypt or the history of Chinese immigration in Milan, alongside a strong modern and contemporary art programme. Blockbuster art presentations in recent years have included Jean-Michel Basquiat, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Gauguin. With a large education annex and underground parking, MUDEC caters particularly well to families.

8. Casa Museo Boschi Di Stefano

Museum

Housed in the former residence of spouses Antonio Boschi (1896–1988) and Marieda Di Stefano (1901–1968), Casa Museo Boschi Di Stefano is the couple’s personal collection of 20th-century Italian art. Avid collectors during their lifetime, they amassed over 2,000 paintings, drawings and sculptures, which they generously donated to the City of Milan in 1974. A selection of 300 works, which traces modern Italian art history from the 1900s until the 1960s, is beautifully hung in true salon style, among period furniture inside the elegant apartment. The building was constructed at the beginning of the 1930s by architect Piero Portaluppi and has been excellently maintained – note the original Art Deco door frames and glass work. At Casa Museo Boschi Di Stefano, you can admire an exquisite Art Deco cabinet next to a rare Mario Sironi painting, or an outlandish 1950s dining table designed by Gino Levi Montalcini beneath a Piero Manzoni Achrome; it is the ultimate aesthete destination.

9. Massimo De Carlo

Art Gallery

Opening on Via Ventura in 1987, Massimo De Carlo is a commercial gallery renowned for bringing big international artists to Milan. Now, it has additional spaces in Palazzo Belgioioso in the historical centre of the city, as well as in London and Hong Kong. The Palazzo Belgioioso gallery space was designed by Giuseppe Piermarini (who also designed the La Scala Theatre) in 1787 – the ornate features create a beautiful environment in which to view innovative contemporary artworks by the likes of Maurizio Cattelan, Elmgreen & Dragset, Jim Hodges and Kaari Upson. The original Via Ventura gallery is a more typical white-cube space.

10. Tornabuoni Arte

Art Gallery

Leading modern and contemporary art dealer Tornabuoni Arte was first established in Florence in 1981, and has since opened gallery spaces in Milan (1995), Forte dei Marmi (2004), Tornabuoni Arte Antica (2006) and the foreign offices of Crans Montana in Switzerland (1993), Paris (2009) and London (2015). The gallery specialises in post-war Italian art and is renowned for its academic and research credentials. Its exhibition programme focuses on presentations of seminal 20th-century Italian artists such as Giacomo Balla, Giorgio de Chirico and Giorgio Morandi, but also features leading international artists from the 20th century to present, including Pablo Atchugarry, Jean Dubuffet and Hans Hartung. Located in an unassuming building on Via Fatebenefratelli, this intimate space is ideal for visiting while you are in the Brera neighborhood.

11. Gió Marconi Gallery

Art Gallery

This gallery continues the legacy Gió Marconi had begun with his father, Giorgio Marconi, at Studio Marconi – a space they ran together between 1965 and 1992 that focused on the most compelling artists of their day. The new gallery is the offspring of Studio Marconi 17, an experimental space for emerging international artists and critics directed by Gió Marconi, and it continues the focus on notable international contemporary artists (for example, Nathalie Djurberg, Allison Katz and Franz Ackermann) while also highlighting work from the former Studio Marconi programme. It holds an important place in Milan’s contemporary art history and is still one of the best places in the city see bold, often challenging, new art.

Kaufmann Repetto

Kaufmann Repetto is a gallery born from the collaboration between Francesca Kaufmann and Chiara Repetto. After being located in the historic Via dell’Orso for many years, the gallery recently relocated to a new space designed by architect Frank Böhm. The new space allows for a wider range of works, including large-scale installations, and has quickly become one of the favourite galleries in Milan. Among the artists hosted at the gallery is Los-Angeles based installation artist Pae White. White’s art tries to unite domestic activities and artistic vision; everyday objects are reinvented and transformed, piquing the interest of the viewers. Recommended by Oreste Giorgio Spinelli.

Francesca Minini

Francesa Minini is an open-space gallery dedicated to the promotion of talented national and international contemporary artists. In 2013, Francesca Minini, owner and director of the gallery, launched an exhibition entirely focused on up-and-coming South American artists. For the exhibition, appropriately titled Opinione Latina 1 (Latin Opinion 1), Francesca Minini decided to feature both those artworks that were representative of the artists and some original pieces that would surprise and fascinate the public. This choice was guided by a desire to give a complete view on the landscape of contemporary Latin American art. Recommended by Oreste Giorgio Spinelli.

Galleria Carla Sozzani

Since its opening in 1990, Galleria Carla Sozzani has showcased the best of national and international photography during over 200 exhibitions featuring top-tier photographers such as Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz and Bert Stern. In addition to its impressive roster of world-renowned photographers, Galleria Carla Sozzani organises a bi-annual exhibition dedicated to architecture, design and fashion. Carla Sozzani also promotes her artists and exhibitions through her own publishing house, Carla Sozzani Editore. Recommended by Oreste Giorgio Spinelli.

Viafarini

Founded in the early 1990s, Viafarini is a non-profit organisation and gallery that has three main objectives. First and foremost, the gallery wants to promote young Italian artists and guide them through their artistic research. Secondly, the gallery supports young artists in their mobility and, finally, it offers the artists a space where they can exhibit their works. All mediums of artistic expression are welcome within the exhibition spaces of Viafarini; the organisation hosts exhibitions, film screenings and live performances. A recent show includes a performance by Driant Zeneli, who investigates the various aspects of human nature by staging surreal performances. Recommended by Oreste Giorgio Spinelli.

A Arte Invernizzi

Founded in 1995, A Arte Invernizzi unites artists from different generations, national and international, with the objective of initiating a dialogue that will express the multifaceted world of contemporary art. A Arte Invernizzi’s recent group exhibition was titled L’Occhio Musicale (‘the musical eye’) and was directed by pianist Alfonso Alberti. The exhibition focused on the relationship between visual arts and music. The 11 featured artists explored this relationship following two main concepts, time and harmony, by experimenting with different mediums, materials, shapes and colour combinations. Recommended by Oreste Giorgio Spinelli.

Circoloquadro

Circoloquadro wants to broaden the access to contemporary art by making it more accessible to the general public and easier to understand. Circoloquadro’s philosophy is that art, as a mirror of present times, shouldn’t be aimed only at an elite of literati, but its emotional, social and political components should be available all those who wish to approach it. The gallery organises exhibitions as well as meetings with artists, allowing the public to ask questions and discuss various subjects with the artists themselves. A recent exhibition, titled Paesaggio Italiano, featured the artworks of Massimo dalla Pola who, in his work, analyses some of the darkest moments of Italian history, including the most brutal assassinations of Italy’s recent past. Recommended by Oreste Giorgio Spinelli.

Studio Guenzani

Studio Guenzani opened in 1987 and, since its very first exhibitions, it became clear that the gallery would become one of the most prominent in Milan. In 1988, it showcased the works of photographers Louise Lawler and Cindy Sherman and, over the years, has represented world-renowned photographers such as Hiroshi Sugimoto, Sharon Lockart, and Dayanita Singh. In 2001, Studio Guenzani organised a solo exhibition of Japanese artists Yayoi Kusama, who hadn’t exhibited her works in Italy since the 1960s. The exhibition featured a comprehensive collection of artworks from the 1950s, all the way to the artist’s most recent productions including a massive environmental installations. Recommended by Oreste Giorgio Spinelli.
Heading to Milan’s top art galleries? Why not check out the city’s top attractions, as well as the coolest neighbourhoods in Italy’s northern capital too? Book plavces to stay in Milan directly with Culture Trip from our pick of Milan’s best hotels. We’ve also got some top recommendations of places to stay at boutique hotels, wallet-friendly accommodation and luxury hotels.

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