The Pinacoteca di Brera gallery, in the same complex as the world-renowned Accademia di Brera, is located in the art district of the same name. In fact, if you’re an artist or art lover, make sure to give yourself time to discover Brera’s posh surrounding neighborhood, including lots of nice galleries, boutiques, art supplies shops, and even mysterious underground workshops (visible through windows at the height of your knees).
The neoclassical complex is located on via Brera 28, and has an interesting history, beginning as a convent built in the 14th Century. It was passed on to the Jesuits who turned it into a school, and was finally handed over to the State in 1773 when Milan was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Empress Theresa of Austria decided to add the Museum beside the Academia for the educational benefit of the students. The structure was further developed to host, besides the Academy of Fine Arts and the Lombard Institute of Science and Letters, the Braidense National Library, the Astronomical Observatory, and the Botanical Gardens.
In a later war, when Milan became the capitol of the Italian Kingdom, Napoleon turned the museum into a showroom of the most important works coming from the French-conquered territories. In the end, the unique thing about the Pinacoteca di Brera is that it comes from the State, unlike many great Italian museums coming from private noble or aristocratic collections.
With a series of 38 rooms and gift shop, a proper visit should be allowed at least 1.5 hours in order to briefly take in each painting, and more time if you want to get lost in them.
The crazy thing about the Pinacoteca is that they have so many paintings, they cannot all fit on the walls and many, many end up staying hidden away in storage. That’s why the temporary exhibit “Primacy of Drawing” is so special.
The first pieces you will see, in room 1, are drawings that have literally come out of their closets for just a couple of months to be shown alongside the great works for which they were originally sketched and studied: “The Primacy of Drawing | Drawings of the great masters compared with the drawings of the Pinacoteca di Brera. From the primitives to Modigliani.” The masterpieces themselves, having eventually been completed, are displayed on loan from: the Louvre, the Albertina of Viena, Metorpolitan Museum, Morgan Library, the Uffizi, etc.
This is one of the Pinacoteca’s several initiatives on occasion of the Expo, in conjunction with Very Bello. Get ready to blush at the Pinacoteca for the multimedia exhibit 9th June – 13th September “The Kiss of Francesco Hayez. The beautiful country of unification, youth, and love” getting up close and personal with this painting, its history and its meanings. Another is “The process of the museum today” starting 28th July celebrating contemprorary art.
What can I say? The Pinacoteca has an outstanding collection of important and famous paintings illustrating an aray of schools throughout the centuries. I will just point out a few notables, skipping through the rooms: room 7 Bellini and Mantegna; rooms 8, 9, 14, and 15 have particularly amazing grandiose depictions of Biblical scenes; rooms 10, 11, and 12 host modern pieces including Modigliani; room 24 Piero della Francesca and Raffaello; room 29 Caravaggio; rooms 32/33 Rembrandt and Rubens; and finally in room 37 we see Hayez’s The Kiss and Pellizza da Volpedo’s Fiumana.
PINACOTECA DI BRERA
Via Brera, 28 – 20121 Milano
Metro: Lanza (green line MM2) or Montenapoleone (yellow line MM3)
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 8:30am – 7:15pm (ticket office closes at 6:40 PM),
closed on Mondays. Bookshop 8:30am – 7:15pm
Tickets: €10/€7, FREE entry the first Sunday of each month