Pinacoteca di Brera

Milan, Italy

The Pinacoteca di Brera is the main public gallery for paintings in Milan. It contains one of the foremost collections of Italian paintings. The convent on the site passed to the Jesuits (1572), then underwent a radical rebuilding by Francesco Maria Richini (1627–28). When the Jesuits were disbanded in 1773, the palazzo remained the seat of the astronomical Observatory and the Braidense National Library founded by the Jesuits.

In 1774 were added the herbarium of the new botanical garden. The buildings were extended to designs by Giuseppe Piermarini, who was appointed professor in the Academy when it was formally founded in 1776, with Giuseppe Parini as dean. Piermarini taught at the Academy for 20 years, while he was controller of the city's urbanistic projects, like the public gardens (1787–1788) and piazza Fontana, (1780—1782).

For the better teaching of architecture, sculpture and the other arts, the Academy initiated by Parini was provided with a collection of casts after the Antique, an essential for inculcating a refined Neoclassicism in the students. Under Parini's successors, the abate Carlo Bianconi (1778–1802) and artist Giuseppe Bossi (1802–1807), the Academy acquired the first paintings of its pinacoteca during the reassignment of works of Italian art that characterized the Napoleonic era. Raphael's Sposalizio (the Marriage of the Virgin) was the key painting of the early collection, and the Academy increased its cultural scope by taking on associates across the First French Empire: David, Pietro Benvenuti, Vincenzo Camuccini, Canova, Thorvaldsen and the archaeologist Ennio Quirino Visconti. In 1805, under Bossi's direction, the series of annual exhibitions was initiated with a system of prizes, a counterpart of the Paris Salons, which served to identify Milan as the cultural capital for contemporary painting in Italy through the 19th century. The Academy's artistic committee, the Commissione di Ornato exercised a controlling influence on public monuments, a precursor of today's Sopraintendenze delle Belle Arti.

The Romantic era witnessed the triumph of academic history painting, guided at the Academy by Francesco Hayez, and the introduction of the landscape as an acceptable academic genre, inspired by Massimo D'Azeglio and Giuseppe Bisi, while the Academy moved towards becoming an institution for teaching the history of art. Thus in 1882 the Paintings Gallery was separated from the Academy.

From 1891 the exhibitions were reduced to triennial events, and architectural projects developed their autonomous course. During the period of the avant-garde when Modernism was becoming established, the director of the Academy Camillo Boito had as pupil Luca Beltrami, and Cesare Tallone taught Carlo Carrà and Achille Funi.

The Brera Observatory hosted the astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli for four decades, and the Orto Botanico di Brera is a historic botanical garden located behind the Pinacoteca.





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Via Brera 28, Milan, Italy
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Founded: 1776
Category: Museums in Italy


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Meryem K. (10 months ago)
One of the best art museums that I had the chance to visit. Since it was February, we didn’t consider the need to buy the tickets in advance. But even during this time of year we didn’t expect to see so many people; so I definitely recommend buying the tickets in advance if you plan to visit during the high season. There are lockers at the entrence of the museums for 1 euro that you get to take back after you leave; and that was very helpful.
Alex Iacobita (13 months ago)
Beautiful museum, the best i’ve been to in Milan! The courtyard is free entry, if you just want to have a look at the building and some of the statues, but there are many gorgeous art pieces to see inside. When we went, there were also 2 artists inside that were singing, which added to the overall great experience. Definitely worth a visit!
Mandy F (14 months ago)
Beautiful museum. The entrance itself with the open courtyard is already impressive. For sure worth visiting for 2-3 hours. Bigger than I expected it to be. The only negative thing to say would be how unclear it is where the entrance is. They placed signs pointing two different ways. One is up the stairs and says “tickets with reservation” , while the other sign points entrance past the stairs and elevators which leads absolutely nowhere and is a really long walk. The right way is up the stairs and they could point this out more clearly. Lots of confused people…
Dusan Bolek (20 months ago)
For art lovers the best place to visit in Milano. Not particularly big, but nice collection of visual art mostly from Renaissance era. Very nice Caravaggio is probably the biggest highlight of the museum, but far from being the only interesting thing in the museum. Highly recommended. Crowds reasonable, but tickets need to be reserved in advance.
Pascal Visscher (22 months ago)
The museum is worth a visit if you are into art. A lot of it is religiously themed however so take that into consideration. The building itself is very beautiful and nice to look around in. The upper floor is the museum consisting of around 32 rooms and the lower floor has facilities related to the art school. We spent around 2 hours in there although we did walk through the later part a bit quicker due to needing to be at the next museum in time.
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