Diocesan Museum

Corso di Porta Ticinese, 95. (Open Map)


The Diocese Museum is an important institution for those who wish to discover a significant part of Milan’s history. In fact, in order to develop an accurate picture of the city, it is essential to look at the profoundly religious component which lies at the foundation of Milan’s social and cultural structure.
The Museum presents history and art, in an exhibition sequence running through successive periods and styles, expressing a single historical and ecclesiastical identity.
For example, part of the exhibition is dedicated to Saint Ambrose, patron saint of the city. This section begins with a group of works from the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, a series of objects linked to the history of the church and Milan’s great saint.
The A. Crespi collection of gold-ground paintings is absolutely splendid, and it represents a unique heritage amongst Milan’s museums, an important example of a specialist collector’s work. This type of collection is a good example of art collecting in Lombardy, with a highly cultural approach, and dedicating attention to both local artists and painters from other cities. This collection comprises about forty works on panel painted in the 1300s and 1400s, mostly in Tuscany and Umbria; they are therefore significant to the development of Italian painting.
The Museum is run by the Sant’Ambrogio Foundation, whose representatives are nominated by the Archbishop of Milan. The structure is part of the Ambrosian Diocese, and it was formed with the function of conserving and promoting the artistic heritage of the Diocese. The first idea for the Museum dates back to 1931, when the Blessed Ildefonso Schuster, archbishop of Milan, wrote a letter to the clergy titled “For sacred art and a Diocesan museum”. The suggestion was taken up only in 1960, when cardinal GiovanBattista Montini, later to become Pope Paul VI, signed an agreement between the archbishopric and the Municipality of Milan, in which the cloisters of Sant’Eustorgio were to be restored for the new museum. But the project began only in the 1980s, when cardinal Carlo Maria Martini launched the project for the reconstruction and adaptation of the cloisters for the museum. Design was commissioned from Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso. The Museo Diocesano was inaugurated on 5 November 2001.
The entire collection comprises about 600 works, of which about 400 are exhibited, subdivided into sections.