The combined home and museum created by the Milanese collector Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli is known all over the world.
Poldi Pezzoli was born in Milan in 1822. His father Giuseppe inherited great wealth from both his father's family, the Poldi of Parma, and his mother's, the Pezzoli d'Albertone of Bergamo. Rosa Trivulzio, his mother, belonged to one of the oldest Milanese families with a long tradition of collecting, for which Gian Giacomo soon developed a passion. He began building up his extraordinary art collection in the 1840s, not only paintings (including masterpieces by Pollaiolo, Botticelli, Giovanni Bellini, Mantegna, Piero della Francesca, Tiepolo and Guardi) but also sculptures and important items of the decorative arts, armour and weapons, glassware, ceramics, jewellery, solar and mechanical clocks, carpets and furniture.
At the same time, Poldi Pezzoli used his money and energy in the refurbishment of his apartment in accordance with the taste of the age, calling in the leading artists and decorators for the purpose. This was the undertaking of a lifetime, which ended in 1879 with the collector's sudden death. The museum opened to the public in 1881 in accordance with his wishes. It is one of Italy's earliest artistic foundations and still maintains all the interest and atmosphere of a combined home and museum despite the damage suffered during World War II.
In addition to the evocative historical rooms in the 19th-century style, visitors should take in those recently redesigned for display purposes, namely the weapons room designed by the artist Arnaldo Pomodoro (2000), the room of gold (2006) and the collector's room.
The strong ties that have always existed between the museum and collectors are demonstrated by a series of important donations over the years, including solar and mechanical clocks, lace and embroidery, drawings and paintings, china and netsuke.
The museum organizes exhibitions, lectures, courses, concerts with ancient musical instruments and activities for schools and families.
The aids available to the public include catalogues, educational publications, free audio guides for adults and children, and a museum shop.
The Museo Poldi Pezzoli is on facebook and files can be downloaded from www.museopoldipezzoli.it for smartphones.