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The Sforza Castle Museums

With its seven centuries of history, the Sforza Castle bears witness to the glorious periods and dramatic moments of Milan. Defensive structure and ducal residence during the Visconti period (14th-15th centuries), partially demolished during the Ambrosian Republic (1447-1450), the Castle was rebuilt by the new lord of city, Francesco Sforza, and became the elegant setting for one of the most sumptuous courts of Europe during the reigns of Galeazzo Maria and Ludovico il Moro. Once it lost its role as a lordly residence it became an army barracks, a function it was to mantain over the following centuries, during the foreign domination of Milan by the Spanish (1535-1706), the Austrians (1706-1796), the French (1796-1814) and the Austrians again (1814-1859). It was only at the end of 19th century, in a united Italy, that it was restored by Luca Beltrani and given back to the Milanesi having been transformed into a Museum Centre and a recreational venue. Today, it is one of the most significant monuments of the city and of Lombardy, beloved by the Milanese and Known to tourists throughout the world, not only as a notable construction but as a precious receptacle of genuine masterpiece and a study centre.

Museum of Ancient Art

With nearly 2000 items, it is the most important collection of Late-Antiquity, Medieval and Renaissance sculpture in Lombardy. The Museum, housed in rooms bearing the Sforza and Spanish decoration, displays items linked to the history of the city and region, as well as masterpieces acquired by the City Council throughout the course of time. After the visitor has passed through the arch of the Pusterla dei Fabbri, once one of the gates in the Medieval walls of Milan, his attention is drawn to the 14th-century funerary monument of Bernabò Visconti to decorate the churches and gates of the city walls. The History of the city is Shown in the friezes from the Medieval Porta Romana, depicting events following the capture of the city by Frederick I Barbarossa in 1162, and the 16th-Century Gonfalon of Milan featuring the portrait of St Ambrose. The Sforza period of Milan is represented by the Sala delle Asse, designed by Leonardo da Vinci called to Milan by Ludovico il Moro, the frescoes of the Ducal Chapel and the private rooms of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, where Late-Gothic (Jacopino da Tradate) and Reinassance (Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, Antonio and Cristoforo Mantegazza) works are displayed. After the Armoury, housing a selection of Arms from the Late Middle Ages to the 18th century, the itinerary is completed by two outstanding masterpieces: the funerary monument of Gaston de Foix, commissioned by the King of the France Francis I and sculpted by Bambaja, and the famous Rondanini Pietà by Michelangelo, his last and unfinished work.

Picture Gallery

The Castle picture gallery, comprising approx. 1500 works of art, is one of the most important collections of the city. Its new layout, completed in April 2005, has an itinerary startign from sumptuous pieces of Late-Gothic Lombard Art and ending with the 18th-century views of Venice by Canaletto. After the display of artworks which recall the lavish Visconti and Sforza courts, there is an extensive Italian Reinassance section: paintings by Vincenzo Foppa, Bergognone and Bramantino, side by side with works by artist influenced by the arrival of Leonardo in Milan, as Bernardino Luini, Cesare da Sesto, Andrea Solario and Marco d'Oggiono. These are followed by paintings by Filippo Lippi, Giovanni Bellini, Carlo Crivelli, Antonello da Messina, Andrea Mantegna, Bronzino, Correggio, Lorenzo Lotto, Moretto da Brescia, Titian and Tintoretto. The late 16th and 17th centuries are represented by canvases of artists active in Lombardy, such as the Campi brothers, Cerano, the Procaccini, Morazzone, Daniele Crespi, and Carlo Francesco Nuvolone, whilst the 18th century includes the names of the Ligurian Magnasco, the ombards Fra Galario and Pitocchetto, and the Venetians Sebastiano Ricci, Canaletto, Giambattista Tiepolo, Francesco Guardi and Bernardo Bellotto. The new layout features sculptured artworks in the displays: 15th-17th century medals, including those of Pisanello and Caradosso, wooden bas-reliefs and sculptures in terracotta and marble. A recently acquired artwork which stands out is the extraordinary Madonna Taccioli, sculpted by Bambaja.

Egyptian Museum

One of the Visconti rooms of the Castle is dedicated to Ancient Egypct, with a visitor's itinerary which illustrates the fundamental aspects of Eguptian civilization, incorporating its art and artifacts. The items in the collection, gathered together through purchases, donation and the Italian archeological excavations carried out of Fayyum during the 1930s, are displayed in thematic cores: there is a succession of examples of writing on stone, wood and papyrus, images and seals of pharaohs, figurines of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic divinities, amulets of differing shapes and significance, statuettes of ushabty in wood, stone and faience, canopic vases, items of daily life, sarcophagi, mummies of humans and animals as well as funerary masks.

Museum of Prehistory and Photo-history

Information panels centextualizing the items in the collection and explaning both their functions and manufacturing techniques accompany the itinerary of the principal cultures of Lombardy, from the Neolithic era (6th-4th millennia BC) up to the period of Romanization (3rd-1st centuries BC). The Neolithic era is illustrated principally by materials which come from the culture of Lagozza di Besnate (first half 4th millennium BC). The Bronze Age (2200-900 BC) is exemplified by items from the piledwellings terramare culture (16th-13th centuries BC) and the grave goods found in the Scamozzina Monza Alba culture (14th-13th centuries BC) as well as the Canegrate culture (13th century BC). The Golasecca culture (9th-4th centuries BC) brings us up to the Iron Age (1st millennium BC) with the grave goods found in the "first warrior tomb" of Sesto Calende (7th century BC), in Albate (mid-6th century BC) and Trezzo sull'Adda (6th-5th centuries BC). The final part of the collection displays items from the Celtic culture of La Tène and the Gallic world of th insubrians (4th-1st centuries BC), with also items imported from the Roman World.

Museum of Decorative Arts

The exceptional objects on display document the work of engravers, ceramist, sculptors, gold and silver smiths, armourers, tapestry and other weavers who plied their craft mainly from the 11th to the 18th century. Side by side with the rich collection of Renaissance ceramics and maiolica from Faenza, Urbino and Pesaro, are the 18th-century Lombard productions of Felice Clerici and Pasquale Rubati, as well as some exquisite pieces of Meissen porcelain. Among the most valuable pieces of the collection are the Trivulzio tapestries, masterpieces of Lombard production woven design by Bramantino between 1504 and 1509. Other items such as Late-Antiquity and Medieval ivory work, liturgical pieces and Limoges enamel together with glass and bronze-ware illustrate sectors of artistic craftsmanship little known to the greater public.

Museum of Musical Instruments

Created by the master Natale Gallini, this valuable collection of both European and non-European instruments ranks second in Italy and iso ne of the most outstanding in Europe. Pieces made by the lute-makers of Cremona, such as violin designed by Andrea Guarnieri, can be admired, along with famous models by their Milanese counterparts, like the viola built by Giovanni Grancino, and unique instruments such as the Mango Longo guitar, the ivory oboe by Anciuti and the double virginal by the Flemish Johannes Ruckers (c. 1600)

Forniture Museum

Recently re-designed by Perry King and Santiago Miranda for the exhibition "From the Sforza to Design" , the Museum features six centuries of the history of furniture, with precious items created between the end of the 15th and the 20th century. Displayed in an area which recreates realistic settings, thus illustrating the historical and artistic contexts of the items as well as their original function, the pieces are arranged in coherent groups together with objets d'art, prints and coeval paintings, thanks to original display solutions. Special attention has been given to modern furniture as well, designed by "classic" Artists, as, for example, Gio Ponti and Carlo Mollino, or by great designer such as Ettore Sottsass.

Achille Bertarelli Prints Collection

Dedicated to the Milanese Achille Bertarelli (1863-1938) who provided the first nucleus by donating 300'000 etchings to the City of Milan in 1925, the Collection today possesses approx. one million prints. It offers artistic prints (15'000 items, from wood-cuts of the 1400s to present-day masters), historic, religious and popular ones, maps, city plans and views, sketches of monuments, portraits, costumes and uniforms, scenes of games and festivals, ex-libris, calendars, postcards, invitations, visiting cards, menus and advertising posters. There is also a rich collection of antique books and a wide choice of modern volumes. The material is available for consultation and is being catalogued on computer.

Photographic Archive

600'000 photographs dating from 1840 to the present day make this Archive one of the most important historic photographic collection in Italy. Besides documenting various techniques of printing, the photographs bear witness to the artistic and naturalistic history, historical events and social life of Milan and Lombardy not to mention the rest of Italy and many European and non-European countries. To be signed out are Luca Beltrami's collection, a valuable documentation of his studies, and that of Lamberto Vitali, first historian and collector of Italian photography. The material can be consulted by the public and some of it is available on computer.

Archaeological and Numismatic Library

Founded in 1808 and specialized in archaeology and numismatics, it has approx.. 33'000 modern volumes, 1'125 antique, 700 titles of periodicals, audiovisual materials, historical archives and the personal archives of famous archaeologists and numismatists. It offers the public on line consultation of its catalogues and digitized data banks (standalone), a photo-reproduction service, and the distribution of its own publications. For years the library has promoted important publishing projects in the archaeological, numismatic and archival fields.

Trivulziana Library and City Historical Archive

The Trivulziana Library, purchased from Trivulzio family in 1935, is an historical preservation library, specialized in history and literature from Humanistic Renaissance period. The substantial original collection has been increased by the purchase of antique and modern works and the aggregation of small, private libraries. The institute actually possesses approx. 180'000 volumes which include manuscripts (the oldest dates back the 8th century and its most famous in the Notebook by Leonardo da Vinci), antique and modern books as well as periodicals. From 1994, within the National Library Service (SBN) project, it has part of its catalogue on line. In addition to normal library services, the Trivulziana organizes cultural activities and various publications. The Historical Archive contains the part of Civic Documents dating from 1385 still in existence, the Acts of Municipal Administration up to 1927 and private archives acquired over the years. It also includes a library specialized in literature, art, history and local tradition.

Art Library

Together with Archaeology and History of Art Library in Rome and the Kunsthistorisches Institutes specialized in art in Italy. It was founded in the 1930s and now numbers approx. 91'000 volumes, including some rare and antique editions. The library catalogue is available on-line. Its separate section, located in Via Cimarosa, offers the possibility of consulting approx.. 1'600 Italian and foreign magazines on art, applied arts, architecture, design and related disciplines. Of considerable interest are the archival collections, including those of Beltrami, Bignami, Treves, Pollack, Vassalli, Medardo Rosso, Wart Arslan and Giovanni Lomazzi. The library is also extremely active in publishing and organizes many lectures.

Vinciana Collection

Started with the donation that Luca Beltrami made to the City of Milan, the Ente Raccolta Vinciana holds 5'000 volumes, including manuscripts, antique and modern collections, and over 2'000 photographs on Leonardo da Vinci. It is the most important Centre for research on Leonardo.

CASVA- Centre for High Studies in the Visual Arts

The CASVA, together with the Art Library and the Archaeology an Numismatics Library, is under a single management and is now housed in the Sforza Castle. It will later be relocated to the "Città delle Culture" museum complex in the former Ansaldo plant in Milan, where the most important book, archive and document collections of archaeological and artistic-historical interest existing in Milan will be brought together. The total number of items exceeds 220'000. The collections preserved by the CASVA feature important architecture and design archives, including that of Luciano Baldessarri: a corpus of more than 1'000 drawings, temperas, watercolors, collage and 3D models, which document Baldessari's work as an architect of Buildings and monuments, set designer, painter and creator of exhibitions, from 1915 to 1980.

Useful information

Opening hours - The Castle

7:00 - 18:00; summer time: 7:00 - 19:00

Opening hours - Museums

9:00 - 17:30; closed on Mondays

Telephone Info: +39 0288463700

Telephone Ticket Office +39 0288463703

Telephone Security Service +39 0288463701

Internet site produced thanks to the contribution of Credito Artigiano (Credito Valtellinese Group)

Public Transport

Underground: M1 (Cadorna, Cairoli); M2 (Cadorna, Lanza)

Buses: 18, 50, 57, 58, 61, 94;

Trams: 1, 2, 4, 12, 14, 19

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