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Why the Pirelli Foundation is worth a visit

News > Design | Why the Pirelli Foundation is worth a visit

Nobles and business men have characterized the great cities of the modern world, giving their contribution to creating a working environment and cultural heritage that mark it.

Pirelli is a large family of industrial coming from the province of Lecco, but their name is linked inexorably to Milan. Their brand is famous and renowned throughout the world. The company, founded in the late nineteenth century, has been a pioneer in the business of electrical cables and still in the tire trade. Pirelli change Italy, turning it into one of the most industrialized countries. Innovation, creativity, determination and humility are the Pirelli’s features that it has been a model for many companies worldwide. The company’s vision was revolutionary to create communication and this characteristic is famous as much as its production quality. The art of communication of Pirelli founded a new approach in Italy.

Why the Pirelli Foundation is worth a visit


The historical archive: a treasure to discover

archivio storico Pirelli a Milano


The Pirelli Foundation was established in 2009 under the patronage of the family and the group. The focus of the foundation is oriented to the preservation of the great historical and cultural heritage of the company. The foundation was responsible for archiving, cataloging, restoration and digitization of the immense Pirelli material, and it aims to release it, enhance it and promote it. Before its establishment, to visit the Pirelli heritage we had to go in other locations around Milan; now all the material you can find it at the Foundation, which is based in a beautiful house, Thirties style building, in the Bicocca area, not far from the Hangar Bicocca, another cultural side entirely supported by Pirelli group.

Pirelli exhibition in Milan


The Pirelli Foundation has created the historical archive, which can be visited in many sections. In the archive you have the possibility to discover an extraordinary legacy of photographs, drawings, films and much more. The archive began life in 1942, when the first documents were collected on the anniversary of the Seventy years of the Pirelli life. Over the years it has added other materials that covered 140 years of history.

All material is divided in different sections: “Drawings and Posters”, “Photograph”, “Audiovisual” and that dedicated to the “Pirelli Magazine”. The section “Drawings and Posters” includes hundreds of original drawings and sketches dating from the Teens to the Sixties made by artists, illustrators and graphic designers for advertising product launches. In the section dedicated to the magazine, published between 1948 and 1972, there are filed the all issues, which was designed and developed to combine the technical-scientific matters with humanistic culture.

how to visit Pirelli historical archive


It was a unique experiment in Italian publishing. Themes related to industrial production and technology were published alongside artistic articles, architectural, economic and literary. Among the signatures were imported characters of Italian culture as Dino Buzzati, Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Arrigo Levi, Eugenio Montale, Franco Quadri, Salvatore Quasimodo, Alberto Ronchey, Elio Vittorini and many others while the illustrations were often the work of artists and designers of Renato Guttuso or Fulvio Bianconi.

The photographic section holds prints, negatives and slides that have had a major role in the Pirelli advertising campaigns. Also interesting is the “Audiovisual” section, which includes films from 1912 to today, with works for silent film to the recent television advertising. Among the many activities, the Pirelli Foundation organizes creative and educational workshops aimed at children of nursery and primary school, to make known the younger the world, the culture and the passion that Pirelli has left as legacy.

Foundation website:

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