The best museums in Milan – Lonely Planet


Milan is a lot of things: the second city in Italy and probably the fastest; one of the world’s fashion capitals; theater of breathtaking architecture made of futuristic and century-old skyscrapers palace. Among Milan’s many qualities, an unmissable feature is its status as an art hotspot – and this includes exhibition sites like the Hangar Bicocca and the Royal Palace as well as more traditional museums.

Distracted by its high-end slopes and lush green skyscrapers, one might not immediately think of wandering through museums when imagining a trip to Milan. But the city has a lot to offer for all kinds of artistic interests, and the treasures they hold are well worth a visit. Here is your guide to the ten Milan museums you must visit.

Pinacoteca of Brera

Ideal for Italian painting

The Pinacoteca di Brera is the Milan Museum – just as fundamental to the city as the small statue of the Virgin atop the Duomo. Home to one of the most important collections of paintings in the country and specializing in Italian masters, the Pinacoteca has no shortage of leading works – from Mantegna to Caravaggio, including Hayez The kiss and Raphaël The marriage of the Virgin – and a tour gives you the opportunity to stroll through the middle of each decade of Italian art.

Once you’ve enjoyed your share of priceless art, you can step outside of Brera Palace to explore the surrounding neighborhood of the same name, with its romantic atmosphere and quaint cobblestones.

The last supper by Leonardo da Vinci photographed in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan © Yuri Turkov / Shutterstock

Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie

Great for viewing a masterpiece

The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie isn’t exactly a museum in the true sense of the word, but it is a Unesco World Heritage Site nonetheless – and for very good reason. In the refectory of the monastery attached to the church, your attention is grabbed by one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous masterpieces, The last supper.

Where the Pinacoteca has a nice range of different paintings, everything at Santa Maria delle Grazie focuses on this one work – but what a work and what a spectacle. Definitely worth a visit, especially since the church and monastery are also steeped in history.


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Pinacoteca Ambrosienne

Ideal for Renaissance art

If you are still hungry for art after a visit to the Pinacoteca de Brera, this gallery of the same name will make sure you are full. Perhaps not as famous as Brera, the Pinacoteca Ambrosienne is nonetheless a treasure of Italian painting that delves deeply into the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

And while you’re there, don’t forget to take a tour of the Ambrosiana Library located in the same palace as the Pinacoteca – some of the volumes in its collection are just as famous as the paintings next door.

High dynamic range HDR Arengario Museo del Novecento in Milan, Italy
Modern art lovers head to the Museo del Novecento for an extensive collection of 20th century works © Claudio Divizia / Shutterstock

Novecento Museum

Ideal for modern art

If you are into modern art, then your number one destination should be the Museo del Novecento, located right next to the Royal Palace and home to an extensive collection of 20th century works.

The museum’s collection includes sculptures as well as paintings and features big names in modern art like Modigliani, Kandinsky, Picasso and Fontana. Among the masterpieces preserved inside you will find one of the many examples of the futuristic sculptor Umberto Boccioni Unique forms of continuity in space – and if it sounds familiar to you, it is because it is also reproduced on the obverse of the Italian twenty euro cent coin.

Milan Triennial

Ideal for design enthusiasts

Nowhere else in Italy is design celebrated like in Milan. It is therefore fitting that one of the first design museums in the country is located here, inside the Palazzo dell’Arte – a stone’s throw from the Duomo and the Royal Palace. La Triennale di Milano is dedicated to the history of Italian design and to the people who contributed to its global rise.

A particularity of this museum is that if its collection is permanent, it is also renovated each year to follow a specific theme. So if your visit to Milan is back, you might find a whole new exhibition waiting for you.

Culture Museum

Best for human anthropology

Also known as Mudec, the Museum of Cultures, this artistic space is relatively new to the Milan museum scene. That’s not to say he isn’t able to grab the attention of visitors – he was at the center of an artistic storm when a lawsuit was brought against him by Banksy in 2019 over legal issues. ‘author.

The Mudec collection presents artefacts from all corners of the world, testimony to human diversity and the richness of its cultures. The museum also serves as a venue for temporary exhibitions and conferences, so you might want to check the calendar to see what’s going on during your visit.

Models of flapping wings from Leonardo da Vinci's scientific studies on display at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology
Leonardo da Vinci’s swing wing models at the Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia © Viktor Gladkov / Shutterstock

Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia

Ideal for families

Not only can you explore a vast collection of trains, planes, cars and machines as well as models made from Leonardo da Vinci’s own designs – the museum also offers a series of laboratories where visitors can experiment with biotechnology, mathematics, energy and other STEM subjects. And with different laboratories on offer for adults and children, this museum is definitely a stopover that families should prioritize when visiting Milan.

Sforzesco Castle

Best for variety

Last but not least, the Castello Sforzesco is both a symbol of Milan and an incredible mecca for museums. It contains ten different institutions dedicated to a wide variety of subjects – and that’s without considering that the castle is a museum in itself.

These are just a few of them: a museum dedicated to furniture, another to musical instruments, an art gallery, one of the largest collections of Renaissance sculpture in Italy, and a museum entirely devoted to the last work of Michelangelo, the Pietà Rondanini. So all you need to worry about is choosing which one you want to start with.


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