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Art & History

The masterpieces of the Museo del Novecento in Milan

News > Art & History | The masterpieces of the Museo del Novecento in Milan

Inside Palazzo Arengario, in Piazza Duomo, there is a museum that opened recently and was immediately identified as a Milanese cultural icon. It is the Museo del 900 (900 Museum), the space that houses a collection of over four thousand Italian and international works of art of the twentieth century, with the aim to preserve, study and promote the heritage of the Bel Paese and to engage a wide audience.

The architecture treasuring the masterpieces

Museo del 900 in Milan

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The space where the Museum stands is itself worth at least a visit and also a mention. The Arengario was built between 1936 and 1959 and designed by famous architects of Milan’s landscape, such as Portaluppi and Griffin: the project of its construction was placed, in fact, as the final step of the urban renewal of the city centre, undertaken by Mengoni, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II’s designer, who had transformed the area standing next to the Cathedral, giving it a monumental character. The structure of the Arengario aimed at balancing the square, marking the transition from ancient to modern.

Abandoned until World War II, it was rebuilt after the war and used as municipal offices. It kept its role until 2010, when it became the seat of the Museum. The project has allowed the city to bring back to life such a central and important building, now turned into one of the most privileged cultural places of Milan. One of the most astonishing parts of the new structure is the glass façade which makes its interior bright and visible from the outside: walking next to it means glimpsing to the large spiral stairs linking the different floors of the building.

The permanent collection

The masterpieces of the Museo del Novecento in Milan

The museum houses works of art of the twentieth century, some among the most important of the Italian and international panorama. The permanent collection includes about 400 works, arranged according to a chronological criterion.

The permanent exhibition starts in 1902, when Giovanni Pelizza Volpedo’s Quarto Stato was first showed. And, in fact, an entire room is dedicated to the picture. You can enter this part of the Museum for free: do it and you will be impressed by the majestic yet silent grandeur of this masterpiece. Next to it, there are sketches that the artist made to study the characters and the environment appearances that allowed Volpedo to create a work of art indelible in both our minds and history.

Il quarto Stato al Museo del 900

After this triumphal entry, the Museum can only give its best to keep up its visitors’ expectations. And, actually, it does not disappoint them. The collection continues with a tribute to the International vanguards, with paintings by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Amedeo Modigliani. Futurism follows this part, represented by a group of unique works of art of the movement’s artists, from Umberto Boccioni up to Carlo Carra.
Here you can see not only collective movements, but also great singularities, such as those of Giorgio de Chirico and Fausto Melotti.

It’s time to go up to the third floor, where the fifties and the sixties are the true protagonists. Piero Manzoni, Enrico Castellani, Agostino Bonalumi fill up this plan with their works.
The last floor is devoted to a solo exhibition of Lucio Fontana. The room, called precisely Sala Fontana, is designed to become itself a work of art: the ceiling, which belongs to 1956 and comes from an ancient hotel located in the Elba Island, and the Neon of the Fontana Foundation are of a powerful energy.
The museum ends with a room dedicated to the Arte Povera and its exponents, such as Luciano Fabro and Giuseppe Penone.

The Museo del Novecento amazes for the complexity of the issues it deals with still keeping an absolute homogeneity: the works are placed in space and live with it, surprising both art lovers and the less experienced visitors.


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