Museo Bagatti Valsecchi (MI)

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
Museo Bagatti Valsecchi (MI) — Lombardia Secrets

In Milan, one of the most beautiful house museums in the world, certainly the best preserved, the only one born at the end of the 19th century with the visionary idea of recreating a Renaissance residence, giving life to a treasure chest of beauty of unparalleled refinement.

In the heart of the Milan fashion quadrilateral, Palazzo Bagatti Valsecchi is a truly unique place in the world and, on the other hand, it could not be otherwise given the premises on which it is based.

The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum is, in fact, the result of the extraordinary story of two brothers who were passionate collectors and lovers of Beauty: the barons Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi who, starting from the 1880s, dedicated themselves to the renovation of the family home located in Via Gesù.

Museo Bagatti Valsecchi (MI) — Lombardia Secrets
Museo Bagatti Valsecchi (MI) — Lombardia Secrets

Build as if you were destined to live forever and live as if you were to die soon.

(Motto inscribed in the room of Fausto Bagatti Valsecchi)

Driven by a great passion for artefacts from the 15th and 16th centuries, the pinnacle of Italian artistic production, they began to collect paintings and objects belonging to that era, hence the truly original idea of creating a mansion inspired by sixteenth-century Lombard homes.

A vision that clashed with the great progress that technology was making at the end of the 19th century. Thus, they decide to “hide” the wonders offered by modernity – heating, running water and electric light – inside furniture that is only apparently from the Renaissance era.
The residence was, for example, the first house in Milan to be equipped with a shower, hidden inside an imposing neoclassical marble tub.

Museo Bagatti Valsecchi (MI) — Lombardia Secrets

The palace is a treasure chest of the highest artistic manufacturing techniques, as the Bagatti Valsecchi brothers entrusted orders to the best craftsmen of the time who transformed every type of material for them, wood, marble, stucco, but also concrete , in a truly avant-garde stylistic epic.

Important works and furniture unfold from room to room, leaving us wrapped in amazement: ancient tables by authors such as Giovanni Bellini, Bernardo Zenale, and Giampietrino find their place alongside silver caskets, ivory objects, glass and ceramic artefacts.

Museo Bagatti Valsecchi (MI) — Lombardia Secrets

The residence was inhabited by the family until 1974, when Pasino, one of Giuseppe’s sons, decided to set up the Bagatti Valsecchi Foundation, to which he donated the patrimony of works of art collected by his ancestors.

Twenty years later, in 1994, the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum opened to the public, offering us the opportunity to enjoy such wonder.

Museo Bagatti Valsecchi (MI) — Lombardia Secrets

How can you not fall in love with by Fausto’s bedroom decorated with the sixteenth-century polyptych of the Virgin and Child with Saints by Giampietrino and a splendid marble floor that simulates a carpet surrounded by fringes and, on the bedside table, a (still working) golden alarm clock in the shape of a skull that pays homage to the ‘memento mori’ fashion that was very popular in the 16th century? And then the majestic Weapons Gallery with a wooden coffered ceiling embellished with golden pine cones or the Library with celestial globes dating back to the 17th century?

A home that retains, despite its magnificence, a true feel of home, as if time had stopped and its owners were still there. And, in part, this is precisely because, although the family has now moved to another building, Cecilia Dubini and Edward Gillespie, great-great-grandchildren of Fausto and Giuseppe, are today part of the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum Foundation. If you are lucky, they could be the ones to give you a guided tour with a knowledge of art history and anecdotes about their grandparents.

Museo Bagatti Valsecchi (MI) — Lombardia Secrets
Museo Bagatti Valsecchi (MI) — Lombardia Secrets

A lively place, therefore, that hosts exhibitionsdinners, and cultural events, including the famous Stasera al Museo (the calendar of events can be downloaded on the Museum website).

“Laudamus veteres sed nostris utimur annis, Let’s praise the ancients but let’s live our time” says one of the mottos of the Bagatti Valsecchi carved in the ballroom of the residence, a phrase that well summarizes the creed of the Foundation and the new course of the museum with the fine and lively direction by Antonio D’Amico.

The Secret

For a perfect break after a visit to the Museum, you can book Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone, a historic restaurant awarded the Ambrogino d’Oro in 1980, which is located right inside the wonderful internal courtyard of Palazzo Bagatti Valsecchi.

Useful Info

Museo Bagatti Valsecchi
Via Gesù 5
20121 Milano
Tel. +39 02 76006132

Entrance: 12 euro, reduced 9 euro

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