Over the past few months, new museums have been springing up faster around Milan—combining classy contents with adventurous architecture. Launched in anticipation of Expo Milan 2015, which wraps this month, these three new museums spots will remain, offering inventive shows and programming for the city, adding more things to do in Milan!
Milan Design Agenda take a closer look each, highlighting the can’t-miss elements of them all. From Rem Koolhaas’ Fondazione Prada, to Giorgio Armani’s Armani/Silos and David Chipperfield’s Museo delle Culture (Museum of Cultures), whose permanent exhibits have just gone on display, here’s what to see and do at these new cultural landmarks.
Museo delle Culture (Mudec), Milan
Unflatteringly known as the “Blob,” the atrium at David Chipperfield’s Museo delle Culture (Mudec), or Museum of Cultures, is an undulating construction of semi-opaque glass and steel, whose backlit interior recalls the inside of a cloud. It’s reached via a staircase clad in grey volcanic rock, a clever interplay of earth and air.
Officially opened with two temporary exhibitions in May 2015, the Museum of Culture’s permanent collections recently debuted in Chipperfield’s meticulously designed spaces. More than 7,000 ethnographic objects from all five continents are on display, dating from 1,200 BC to the twentieth century. Exhibits include 1,627 pre-Columbian and Native American objects, 295 musical instruments, and 92 hats and fans.
At first sight, Barbie: The Icon—which narrates the story of the legendary doll since her “birth” on March 9, 1959—may seem out of place amid ethnographic displays. In fact, as the museum points out, “she’s managed to knock down every linguistic, cultural, social, and anthropological barrier.”
With contrasting organic and geometric elements, Mudec’s exterior flanks the curvy, backlit atrium with boxy annexes clad in zinc. A third floor restaurant recently opened under upcoming young chef Pasquale Frigoli provides regional cuisine and bird’s-eye views of the property.
ARMANI / SILOS
Inaugurated in May 2015, Armani/Silos is a permanent, $50 million monument to Giorgio Armani and his weighty contribution to Milanese design. In a former 1950s Nestlé granary in the edgy Tortona area, the rigorously minimal edifice could only be by Giorgio and his staff.
Spanning four floors, the museum displays some 600 Armani outfits and 200 accessories, from the 1980s to the present day, many in the designer’s trademark greige. This museum is for die-hard aficionados; fashion cynics should stay away.
Greige isn’t the only color in Mr Armani’s palette, as these outfits, showcasing jewel-toned color schemes against textured backdrops show. Blue, “from dark midnight to purplish,” is a favorite. Then, of course, there is black, in a spectrum that spans from shiny to opaque.
Red is another staple of the Armani palette, as recent looks for spring/summer 2016 testify. Here a strapless, full-skirted gown in scarlet is paired with a plain skullcap. On the same floor, a digital archive that contains images of 2,000 more outfits and accessories is open to anyone who has paid the entrance fee.
Non-European cultures have had an influence on Armani’s designs over forty years. Punjabi collarless shirts, Pakistani tunics, and Southeast Asian sarongs have all been transformed in his deconstructed designs. Here, reworked florals display the influence of exoticism on his work.
Masterminded by Rem Koolhaaas, Fondazione Prada opened in May 2015 in an early 20th century distillery. In the southern Porta Romana zone, the 205,000-square-foot complex incorporates a cinema, a café by movie director Wes Anderson, and various art galleries.
A multi-story tower, clad in real gold leaf, contains “Haunted House,” a permanent exhibition by artists Robert Gober and Louise Bourgeois. Expect to see arty horrors like a child’s leg looming out of a wall, or a woman’s room hung with spooky, abandoned clothes, as you make your way up four flights of stairs.
Hipsters flock to the bar by movie director Wes Anderson, whose Grand Hotel Budapest-style interior is clad in shades of macaroon, marzipan, and mint. Wallpaper references Milan’s nineteenth-century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping mall, replicating its ornate plaster and wrought iron designs. Order panini and coffee from the affordable menu.
A mix of permanent and temporary exhibitions, mostly highlighting contemporary art, fill the remainder of the exhibition space. Don’t miss “An Introduction,” on view until January 10, 2016, an “intense exhibition project” by Miuccia Prada and former Guggenheim director Germano Celant, which begs the question, “how many artworks can be crammed onto one wall?” Hung with an eye for theme, color and materials, rather than chronology, the works include pieces by Roy Lichtenstein, Lucio Fontana and Jeff Koons.
Things to do in Milan? Visit these museums and add them to your Milan City guide!