6 Must-See Museums in Milan and How to Visit
Milan may be best-known for its chic fashion and design, but lovers of art and architecture won’t be disappointed by the wealth of masterpieces in the city’s many world-class museums. From Caravaggio to Kandinsky, there’s a treasure trove to be discovered in Milan’s spectacular collections. Here are our top picks.
Brera Art Gallery (Pinacoteca di Brera)
For medieval and Renaissance paintings.
One of Italy’s most important collections of medieval and Renaissance paintings, housed in the baroque 17th-century Palazzo di Brera, includes masterpieces by Botticelli, Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titian. Admire these dazzling works, and then explore the tony boutiques and cafés in the surrounding Brera neighborhood.
How to Visit: Join a walking tour of Brera that includes skip-the-line tickets to the gallery to visit both the neighborhood and its star attraction.
Sforzesco Castle (Castello Sforzesco)
For a castle full of notable art.
This medieval fortress houses a number of important galleries and museums to peruse. Highlights include Michelangelo’s Pieta Rondanini in the Museum of Ancient Art and the Pinacoteca’s collection of works by Titian and Bellini. The castle is also home to the Museum of Applied Arts, Museum of Musical Instruments, and Egyptian and Prehistoric collections.
How to Visit: Opt for a skip-the-line tour of this vast complex, or join a private tour to access restricted areas of the castle including the crenellated ramparts and the covered Ghirlanda passage.
Leonardo3 Museum (The World of Leonardo da Vinci)
For an interactive experience.
Kids and curious adults enjoy seeing the more than 200 interactive machines and working models based on designs by Italy's greatest luminary, Leonardo da Vinci. The exhibit includes a digitized version of the entire Codex Atlanticus and The Last Supper, as well as a number of the inventor’s unique musical instruments.
How to Visit: Leonardo3 is one of the city museums included in the Milano Card pass, and you can explore the museum independently or with an audio guide in English.
Ambrosian Library (Biblioteca Ambrosiana)
For notes by Leonardo da Vinci.
True Leonardo aficionados won’t want to miss seeing the largest surviving collection of his notes, the Codex Atlanticus. Portions of the 12-volume masterpiece of handwritten text and sketches are on rotating display in the library’s Sala Federiciana and adjacent Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.
How to Visit: Combine a visit at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana with a private or small-group walking tour of Milan’s nearby highlights such as the cathedral (duomo) and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
20th-Century Museum (Museo del Novecento)
For 20-th century art.
Leave the Renaissance masters behind when you visit the Museo del Novecento, home to an important collection of 20th-century art. Admire masterpieces by modern iconoclasts such as Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse, and Kandinsky in the Palazzo dell’Arengario, just steps from Milan’s Duomo, or pop in to see a temporary exhibition of contemporary art, photography, or design.
How to Visit: Join a walking tour of the highlights of Milan’s Piazza del Duomo, and pair it with a stop in the Museo del Novecento on the same square.
For soccer memorabilia.
Milan isn’t just fashion and art: Footie fans flock to Casa Milan, the headquarters of the city’s beloved football (aka soccer) club, AC Milan. Behind its futuristic facade embossed with the team’s colors, the AC Milan museum is home to interactive exhibitions highlighting the high points of the club’s history, memorabilia, and a Hall of Fame and Trophy Room.
How to Visit: Milan football tours include stops at Casa Milan and the San Siro Stadium.