The Gallery of Modern Art (GAM) in Milano is one of the most beautiful museums in the city thanks to the villa in which it is housed, the garden that surrounds it and the stunning art collection.
The majestic villa was built between 1790 and 1796 as Count Lodovico Barbiano Belgiojoso’s residence. The position was strategic for the era: it was the actual and symbolic entrance for those arriving in Milano from Vienna. Some very important characters resided here over the years, including the Viceroy Eugene de Beauharnais, hence the name of Villa Reale, and Marshal Radetzky. In 1920 it became the property of the municipality of Milano. The following year the Gallery of Modern Art (GAM), or the Museo dell’Ottocento was inaugurated.
It is a three-story building featuring two main facades. The first faces the road and has two lower protruding wings bordering the main courtyard, and the second overlooks the back garden and is the most important from an artistic and figurative point of view. Decorated with statues and reliefs of mythological subjects, it was designed by the neoclassical poet Giuseppe Parini and carved by the same craftsmen who worked on the facade of the Duomo.
NOT TO BE MISSED
The Gallery of Modern Art collections boasts a series of masterpieces spanning from neoclassical - with Andrea Appiani and Antonio Canova - to Lombard romanticism - with Francesco Hayez - and the most famous Scapigliatura and pointillist works by Segantini and Medardo Rosso.
Without forgetting, of course, the Italian and foreign paintings from the thirteenth to the twentieth century, amongst which Renoir, Van Gogh, Manet, Fattori and Segantini, Morandi, Sironi, De Pisis and Modigliani, Picasso and Matisse, together with a group of ancient artefacts from the Far East.
The English garden of the Villa, the first to be built in Milano in this style, is a place to walk and stop for a moment of relaxation in the silence, despite being in the city centre.
The English garden is a space “according to nature”, as opposed to the French one, which imposes square shapes and forced patterns on plants.
It looks like a small secluded grove. A waterfall pours from a group of steep rocks and flows into a stream that runs through the entire garden to end in a pond. All around it a path runs interspersed with wooden bridges. At the centre of the pond there is a small island with a circular temple dedicated to Amore.
The villa is characterized by real innovations for the time, such as air heating and an elegant bathroom with English toilets.
For a refreshing stop, you can lounge at the Lùbar: the coffee, Bistrot and restaurant inside the Museum, famous for its Instagram-worthy interiors.