Did you know there are some truly world-class museums in Milan? Yes, I’m sure you’ve all heard about Cenacolo Vinciano, home to Leonardo’s Last Supper, and about Pinacoteca di Brera and its Old Master paintings.
However, did you know recently-opened MUDEC, an ethnographic museum about world cultures? And Museo del Novecento, all about 20th-century art?
In this article, we’ll tell you all about the 13 best museums in Milan – including the best must-visit museums, art galleries, and family-friendly museums!
3 Must-Visit Milan Museums
1) Castello Sforzesco
Built in the 14th century, the Castello Sforzesco is an undeniable landmark icon of Milan. This brick-built fortress was reconstructed by the powerful Sforza dynasty, who ruled the city during the Renaissance era. In its heyday, it was one of the largest citadels in Europe, and was such a symbol of power that Napoleon ordered its destruction in 1800. It was also badly damaged during World War II.
Today, it houses several of Milan’s top museums: the Egyptian Museum, the Applied Arts Collection, the Archaeological Museum of Milan and the Museum of Musical Instruments to name a few.
Also, don’t miss visiting Sala delle Asse, an entire room covered in frescos by Leonardo da Vinci, and Pietà Rondanini, an unfinished sculpture by none other than the great Michelangelo.
Opening times: Daily, 7 am-7.30 pm (Castello); Tuesday-Sunday 9 am-5.30 pm (Museums)
Admission: Free (Castello); Adults €10, Students and seniors €8, last Sunday of the month €5 (Museums)
2) Cenacolo Vinciano
Cenacolo Vinciano is the place you need to go to see one of the most famous paintings in the world: The Last Supper.
This iconic work of art was painted by Leonardo da Vinci between 1495 and 1497 on the walls of the dining room at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, commissioned by the Sforza family (they wanted to turn the convent into the family mausoleum).
Due to damage over time, much of the original painting has been lost, but what remains of this tempera-on-plaster masterpiece can still be seen representing Jesus’ last meal with the Twelve Apostles. For this reason, limited numbers of visitors are allowed in – make sure you book your Last Supper tickets ahead of time!
Opening times: Tuesday-Friday, 8.15 am-7 pm
Admission: Adults €12, Concessions €7
3) Museo del Duomo
This museum may tell the story behind 600 years of Milan’s cathedral, but the museum itself is actually fairly new having opened its doors in the 1950s.
Located on the ground floor of the Royal Palace, the museum collection has grown in recent years becoming an invaluable place to come before you visit the cathedral to get a better idea of its importance.
Here you’ll find marble sculptures, paintings and other artefacts that have been taken from the cathedral over the years. Also, make sure you book your Duomo tickets ahead of time, especially if you are planning o climb to the rooftop!
Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-7 pm
Admission: Adults €5, Concessions €2; Children free
Best Milan Art Galleries
4) Pinacoteca di Brera
Founded in 1809 by none other than Napoleon, the Pinacoteca di Brera is one of the largest art galleries in Italy. It contains a very impressive collection that includes masterpieces by the likes of Raphael, Rubens and Caravaggio.
The 18th-century neoclassical structure itself was originally built as a church and monastery – Santa Maria in Brera – then transformed into a Jesuit college, before becoming an art gallery. Inside the gallery boasts 38 halls with works hung in chronological order, from the medieval period right up to the 20th century.
Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday, 8.30 am-7.15 pm
Admission: Adults €12; 18-25 €8; Children free; first Sunday of the month free
5) Pinacoteca Ambrosiana
This historic library was first established in April 1618 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo who also donated his own collection of statues, drawings and paintings which eventually became the Amborisan Gallery (or Pinacoteca Ambrosiana).
The museum is made up of 24 rooms with some big names among its works. Visiting here means art lovers can admire many of Leonardo da Vinci’s codices, as well as works of art by Raphael and Titian among others.
Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-6 pm
Admission: Adults €15; 18-25 €10; Children under 14 free
6) Museo del Novecento
Opening up in 2010, this museum for 20th and 21st-century art boasts over 400 pieces from mostly Italian artists. It’s housed in the Fascist-style Palazzo dell’ Arengario which is an impressive piece of architecture in itself.
Though the collection may be modest compared to larger museums – and mainly Italian, too – you’ll also find a single room dedicated to works by international modern artists including Braque, Andy Warhol, Picasso and Roy Lichtenstein. Aside from the permanent collection, expect regular specialist exhibitions.
Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 – 19:30
Admission: Adults €10; 18-25 €8; 13-17 €5; Children under 12 free
Best Milan Museums for Families
7) Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia
This landmark museum in Milan is one of the largest science and technology museums in Europe. Tucked away in the atmospheric cloisters of a Renaissance monastery, the National Museum of Science and Technology opened in 1953.
The museum itself spans 50,000 square meters, with exhibits that cover the crucial moments in Italy’s own scientific and technological history. Two notable exhibits are training ship Ebe, and full-size submarine Enrico Toti.
The museum is hands on too, thanks to its interactive labs that invite visitors to explore with the aim to pique interest in technology – making it one of the coolest Milan museums for families!
Opening times: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-5.30 pm (7 pm Sat)
Admission: Adults €10; 18-25 €7; Children free
8) Museo di Storia Naturale
Milan’s Natural History Museum was founded in 1838 from the collection of naturalist and collector Giuseppe de Cristoforis, who donated his specimens to the city.
The building itself is impressive – a neo-Romanesque style structure surrounded by gardens, situated close to the historic Porta Venezia city gate. Inside, the museum is split into five sections: mineralogy, paleontology, natural history of man, invertebrate zoology and vertebrate zoology.
In short, you can expect to see everything from dinosaur fossils to arthropods and exotic mammals. There are also over 100 full size dioramas, making this Italy’s largest collection of them.
Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday, 9 am-7.30 pm
Admission: Adults €5, Concessions €3; Children under 18 free
MUDEC, or Museo delle Culture, is Milan’s hub of all things culture. Once an industrial plant at Porta Genova, the space was transformed by the city in the 1990s into a space-age building, finally opening as MUDEC in 2014.
Its large, redeveloped spaces have wonderfully maintained some industrial elements which today houses a permanent exhibition of over 7,000 works of art from all continents of the world. The aim is to preserve and display everyday objects, paintings, fabrics, and musical instruments that have been made by diverse cultures.
Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-7 pm; Monday 2.30-7.30 pm
Admission: Free (Permanent exhibition only)
Best Offbeat Museums in Milan
10) Museo Poldi Pezzoli
This preeminent house museum started life in the 19th century as the private collection of dedicated art-loving nobility, Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli and his mother, Rosa Trivulzio.
The palazzo in which it is located is neoclassical in style and features an English-style interior garden. Pezzoli left his collection in the capable hands of the Brera Academy, becoming in 1881 the museum it is today.
Works on display run the gamut from the medieval period to the 18th century, with pieces by Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo, Tiepolo, and many more.
Opening times: Thursday-Monday, 10 am-1 pm; 2-6 pm; Wednesday 1-8 pm
Admission: Adults €14; 11-18 and 18-25 €6; Children under 10 free
11) Fondazione Prada
This institution for art and culture is located inside what was once a gin distillery from 1910. Situated on the southern edge of the city, the Fondazione Prada (or Prada Foundation) is made up of new and regenerated buildings, including laboratories and an interior courtyard.
Besides the cool heritage architecture, and a permanent collection, there are regular exhibitions here from contemporary artists as well as film festivals and fashion shows. Creatives that have exhibited their work here include Anish Kapoor, Steve McQueen and Sam Taylor-Wood.
Opening times: Thursday-Sunday, 10 am-7 pm
Admission: Adults €15, Concessions €8 (Permanent collection)
12) Civic Archaeological Museum
This museum is located in the former convent at San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore founded between the 8th and 9th centuries – which, incidentally, is one of Milan’s most beautiful churches!
Even the ancient church itself is like a museum, but the collection here is even older, making it perfect for those who really love history. Here you can discover archaeological finds from throughout the ages.
The first section focuses on the history of ancient Milan, while elsewhere you can find Roman remains (actually a part of the church), the early Middle Ages, Etruscan artifacts and an Ancient Greek area to explore. There’s also a prehistoric and Egyptian collection here.
Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday, 9 am-5.30 pm
Admission: Adults €5, Students 18-25 €3; Children under 18 free; First and third Tuesday of the month free
13) Museo del Design Italiano (Triennale)
Housed in the Palazzo del Arte, the Museo del Design Italiano was built in the early 1930s, designed by architect Giovanni Muzio. This is the place to come for all things stylish in the realm of furniture, interior design, and everyday objects, dating between 1946 and 1981.
There are also previously unexhibited advertising posters and packaging, too. With around 1,600 items in the collection, all displayed in chronological order by decade, it provides an intriguing insight into the aesthetics of the 20th century. It’s definitely one for design lovers.
Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday, 11:00 – 20:00
Admission: Single exhibition €8-10; All exhibitions €16-22; Children free