Milan, the city of fashion and architecture, is Italy's second largest and fastest moving city. Primarily associated with shopping and architectural marvels that include futuristic skyscrapers and centuries-old palazzo style architecture, you never think of museums when you plan a trip to Milan; but therein lies your mistake. There is a lot more to Milan than simply fashion and palazzos!
Museums are an intrinsic part of the city. If you want to step back in time and experience the glory of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, visiting these museums in Milan should be a part of your itinerary! Be it art connoisseurs, students, families, or history buffs-the museums in Milan have something for everyone.
Why Visit Museums in Milan
One of the greatest misconceptions about Milan is that it is a fashionable city known only for shopping and high-end fashion. But this is simply not true! In reality, the city of Milan is a cultural powerhouse that is a hotbed for art, exhibitions, and some truly amazing museums. Some of Italy’s most famous museums are located in Milan. These include Pinacoteca di Brera, Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Sforza Museum, Duomo Milan Museum, and Cenacolo Vinciano museum. Each of the museums in Milan houses artworks and sculptures that give you a beautiful insight into Italy’s historical and cultural heritage. There is something for everyone in the city’s museums. The museums in Milan beautifully serve different artistic interests and house some of the world’s greatest treasures in their regal rooms.
5 Must-see Works of Art in Milan
The museums in Milan are home to some iconic masterpieces. You will find artworks in Milan that range from renaissance art to contemporary and modern art. Some of the must-visit Museums in Milan include the Sforza Castle, home to Michelangelo’s last, unfinished artwork, and the Cenacolo Vinciano museum which is the resting place for Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece ‘The Last Supper.' The Pinacoteca di Brera museum is another must-visit museum in Milan that proudly displays iconic works such as Raphael’s ‘Marriage of the Virgin’ and Hayez’s ‘Il Bacio’ or ‘The Kiss’. If you want to delve into the Renaissance and Baroque periods of Italy, take some time out to visit these beautiful works of art in Milan.
1The Last Supper
Located in the Cenacolo Vinciano, Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper is known the world over. Da Vinci painted this billboard-sized painting on the refectory of the Santa Maria Delle Grazie Basilica. Painted in ‘secco fresco’, Leonardo painted ‘The Last Supper’ using tempera and oil on a gypsum preparation-which was a departure from a commonly used technique of painting during the Renaissance period. Owing to this, the painting started to deteriorate almost immediately. However, stringent measures have been taken to protect this masterpiece that is shrouded in mysteries, legends, and symbolism.
The ‘Rondanini Pietà’ is located in the Sforza Castle. Created by Michelangelo, this piece of art in Milan was discovered in the artist’s studio after his death. The ‘Rondanini Pietà’ is extremely famous because it is believed to be Michelangelo’s last, unfinished work. The painting also has its very own museum-the Museo Pietà Rondanini Michelangelo. The dead Christ in this painting is believed to be an emblem of suffering, and if you have the time, do make it a point to visit this glorious piece of art in Milan.
3Madonna of the Book
Botticelli’s ‘Madonna of the Book’ is displayed in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli. Throughout the Renaissance period, a recurring theme of many paintings was ‘Madonna’ or the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. Botticelli’s work is one of the greatest examples of this popular theme. In his painting, Botticelli has drawn the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus as she reads a religious text. This piece of art in Milan is full of religious symbolism and allegories. It also beautifully showcases the delicate and elegant style of a mature Botticelli.
4The Marriage of the Virgin
Raphael painted his famed ‘The Marriage of the Virgin’ when he was only twenty-one years old! The painting depicts the marriage of the Virgin Mary and Joseph. Based on a common Renaissance theme borrowed from a medieval book called the ‘Golden Legend,’ ‘The Marriage of the Virgin’ can be found in the Pinacoteca di Brera Museum. This artwork has been signed and dated by Raphael himself. If you look above the arched peristyle, you can even see his signature. With bright colors and gracefully rendered figures, Raphael’s ‘The Marriage of the Virgin’ is another must-see art in Milan.
5Il Bacio (‘The Kiss’)
Francesco Hayez’s ‘Il Bacio’ is one of the most famous paintings from the nineteenth century. Hayez was one of the leading artists of the Romantic Movement in art. He was known for creating grand portraits and historical paintings, and his ‘Il Bacio’ was no different. Displayed in the Pinacoteca di Brera Museum, ‘Il Bacio’ is a hymn to young love and shows a soldier and a maiden locked in a passionate embrace. If you look at the painting on an allegorical level, ‘Il Bacio’ is a politically charged painting representing the union of Italy and France.
Best Museums in Milan - A Guide
#1 Duomo Milan Museum
The Duomo Milan Museum is one of the best museums in Milan and traces the history of the Duomo Cathedral through the centuries. Made up of twenty-six rooms, this museum in Milan is divided into fourteen thematic rooms. Each of these rooms is arranged in chronological order to give you a detailed insight into the different phases of construction of the Duomo Cathedral. At the Duomo Milan Museum, you will learn about the Duomo Cathedral and the works of Veneranda Fabbrica. In addition to this, the museum has many educational services for schools and families such as guided tours. The recently renovated Gian Galezza Room at this museum hosts some wonderful exhibitions all year round. Throughout the year, the Duomo Milan Museum also carries out innumerable activities of in-depth analysis and study.
Duomo Milan Museum Highlights
- Giuseppe Perego’s Model of Madonnina
- Tintoretto’s ‘Christ Among the Doctors’
- Tapestries depicting the ‘Story of Moses’ and the ‘Danza dei Putti’
- Statue of Saint Bartholomew Flayed Alive
- The door of the Duomo Cathedral
Recommended Duomo Milan Museum Tickets
Duomo Milan Museum Reviews
It was exactly what it said on the tin! Skipped line, up in the lift, great rooftop views, down into cathdedral & across to museum all included in price!! No fuss
- Ruth, November 2022
I recommend going to the terraces first and then go downstairs directly to Duomo. Cathedral is wonderful. Do not miss terraces, you will see the roofs from near by and all those magnificient decorations and enjoy wonderful view.
- Natasa, October 2022
#2 The National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci
Largest Science and Technology Museum in Italy
The Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo Da Vinci is the largest museum in Italy that is solely dedicated to science and technology. This museum in Milan is one of the most important museums in Europe and the world. Also known as The National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo Da Vinci, the museum is housed in the old, early sixteenth-century Olivetan Convent of San Vittoria. The museum preserves, studies, and interprets more than 18,000 objects and is completely devoted to developments in science since the fifteenth century. The museum also includes displays related to transport, metallurgy, physics, and navigation. The National Museum hosts some fantastic exhibits and interactive workshops on energy, materials, communication, transport, energy, and particle physics. One of the best museums in Milan, the National Museum houses laboratories that allow you to experiment with biotechnology, math, energy, and other STEM objects. If you are looking for a fun family outing, the National Museum of Science and Technology should be on your list!
The National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci Highlights
- Leonardo Gallery
- Erico Toti Submarine
- Goodwill Rock-a rock that was collected from the surface of the Moon by the astronauts of the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
- GR 552 036 Locomotive
- Conte Biancamano Ocean Liner
Recommended The National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci
The National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci Reviews
The National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci was well worth the time and money!!! Seeing the brilliance of da Vinci and other artists/inventors was truly inspirational! It is worth experiencing at any age. There were many families and the kids seemed to be enjoying their time at the museum! We went through the museum in 4 hours and I don't think we saw it all. We did it without a tour and I think either with or without a tour would be fantastic!
- Karen, Headout, August 2022
The Pinacoteca di Brera museum in Milan is also known as the Brera Art Gallery. Housed in the Palazzo di Brera, an eighteenth-century neoclassical structure, the museum is home to more than 400 works of art from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries. The Pinacoteca di Brera Museum in Milan also displays Italian paintings from the ‘Quattrocento’ or the fifteenth century to the eighteenth-century Rococo period. This museum in Milan has the largest collection of paintings that are displayed in thirty-eight different halls. The Pinacoteca di Brera also has the best collection of Venetian and Lombard paintings from the Renaissance period and the Baroque period. The museum hosts musical evenings on Thursdays and provides audio guides to visitors, which you can then use to tour the museum. If you want to experience every decade of Italian art, then this is one of the best museums in Milan to do so. With works from Mantegna, Caravaggio, and Raphael, the Pinacoteca di Brera is ‘the’ Milan museum that is fundamental to the very city of Milan!
Pinacoteca di Brera Highlights
- Francesco Hayez’s ‘The Kiss’
- Raphael’s ‘The Marriage of the Virgin’
- Umberto Boccioni’s ‘Riot in the Gallery
- Andrea Mantegna’s ‘Christ in the Sepulcher and Three Mourners’
- Giovanni Bellini’s ‘Madonna and Child Blessing’
#4 Teatro alla Scala Museum
Best Museums in Milan
The Teatro Alla Scala Museum is an old opera house cum museum in Milan. Rooted in Lombard culture, the Teatro has the best collection of objects that are symbols of theatrical and musical art. This museum in Milan also contains portraits of Giacomo Puccini, Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, and Arturo Toscanini-all of whom greatly contributed to classical music and opera in Italy. You can also see some classical musical instruments, paintings, and porcelain statues at the Teatro Alla Scala Museum in Milan. Through the various sculptures and paintings displayed in the museum, you can learn about the golden period of La Scala. The Teatro Alla Scala Museum also hosts many theatre and opera-related exhibitions that can make your visit to the Teatro Alla Scala Museum all the more enjoyable.
Teatro alla Scala Museum Highlights
- ‘Grand Coda’ Steinway Piano that belonged to Hungarian composer Franz Liszt
- ‘Livia Simoni’ Library
- A room dedicated to Giuseppe Verdi
#5 Leonardo’s Vineyard
Must-see Museum in Milan
La Vigna di Leonardo or Leonardo’s Vineyard is another must-see museum in Milan. Located amidst the lush gardens of a private residence known as the Casa degli Atellani, Leonardo’s vineyard is a hidden gem in the city of Milan. In 1482, Leonardo Da Vinci started working for Ludonica Sforza, the Duke of Milan. Over the years, the Duke became one of the most famous patrons of Da Vinci’s work. In recognition of Da Vinci’s contribution to Italian art during the Renaissance period, the Duke gifted Leonardo Da Vinci this famed vineyard. Hailing from a family of winemakers, Leonardo took great care of the vineyard and tended to it when he painted his acclaimed artwork ‘The Last Supper.’ If you walk across the road from Leonardo’s Vineyard, you will reach the Santa Maria Delle Grazie Basilica, which is the home of ‘The Last Supper.’
Leonardo’s Vineyard Highlights
- Casa degli Atellani
- Zodiac Hall
- The Sala del Luini
- Study of Ettore Conti
- Salla del Scalone
Recommended Leonardo’s Vineyard Tickets
Leonarado's Vineyards Reviews
Absolutely stunning place! The beauty, the atmosphere and the historical value of this location leaves you speechless. Gorgeous to look at from any angle. As for the guest service - impeccable. I would love to visit again and again. Thank you.
- Lena, Headout, August 2022
Enjoyed it. Amazing artworks. Great vineyard recreated- you can imagine how it used to look back in the day. Audio guide was very helpful. Navigated our way from one place to the other. No confusion. Didn't know we were just across the street from the last supper! Also centuries of history is revealed, there is so much beauty in Milan's histroy. PS bring your own headphones.
- Bernice, Headout, June 2021
The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana museum in Milan was established in 1618 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo. This museum is situated inside a Palazzo that was built in 1928 and was attached to the Church of Holy Sepulchre. The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana museum is believed to be one of the best art galleries in Milan and it houses various masterpieces by acclaimed artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, Bramantino, Tiziano, Caravaggio and Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Made up of twenty-four rooms that are in chronological order, the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana will take you on an artistic trip that begins with artworks from the Cardinal’s collection and continues till the beginning of the twentieth century. The interiors of the museum showcase more than 1500 works of art in wood, canvas, and copper.
Pinacoteca Ambrosiana Highlights
- Biblioteca Ambrosiana
- Botticelli’s ‘The Madonna and Child with Three Angels’ or ‘Madonna del Padiglione’
- Caravaggio’s ‘Basket of Fruits’ or ‘Canestra di Frutta’
- Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Portrait of a Musician’
- Titian’s ‘Adoration of the Magi’
The Cenacolo Vinciano is the most famous museum in Milan. The reason: It is the resting place of one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s greatest masterpieces ‘The Last Supper.’ Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ is a billboard-sized painting that is 4.6 meters high and 8.8 meters wide. Leonardo painted this masterpiece on the wall of the dining room in Santa Maria Delle Grazie Basilica between 1495 and 1497. The painting depicts a crucial part of Jesus’ life wherein Jesus announces that one of his apostles will betray him. Painted in a powerful and extremely realistic manner, make sure that you visit this masterpiece when you are in Milan. Da Vinci painted ‘The Last Supper’ by using tempera and oil on a gypsum preparation. Owing to this, the painting immediately started deteriorating after it was painted. However, to preserve this iconic artwork, many stringent measures have already been taken. These include maintaining the room temperature of the painting and allowing groups of twenty-five visitors every fifteen minutes to admire this piece of art.
Cenacolo Vinciano-Leonardo’s Last Supper Museum Highlights
- Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’
- Pages of the Codex Atlanticus
#8 Portaluppi Studio Museum
UNESCO Wold Heritage Site
Founded in 1999, the Portaluppi Studio Museum is one of the best museums in Milan. Dedicated to the renowned Italian architect Piero Portaluppi, the museum is located in a building that was designed by Portaluppi and even functioned as the architect’s private studio. If you want a break from artwork and sculptures, the Portaluppi Studio museum in Milan has the best collection of furniture and accessories that were exclusively designed by Portaluppi. Visit this museum to garner some new-found appreciation for Portaluppi and to understand the impact of his work on the city of Milan.
Portaluppi Studio Museum Highlights
- Omnibus Desk
- Library with prints and materials from 1909
Recommended Portaluppi Studio Museum Tickets
Portaluppi Studio Museum Reviews
A great tour of the museum. Our guide offered us a lot of interesting details and stories of the architect. A must visit for history and art lovers.
- Gisele, Headout, December 2021
One of the most famous museums in Milan, the Poldi Pezzoli Museum is an art museum that is located near the Teatro Alla Scala. Established in the nineteenth century, the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan displays artifacts from the private collection of Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli and his mother Rosa Trivulzio. The museum is located in an elegant Milanese mansion that was Poldi Pezzoli’s former residence. The museum was severely damaged during the Second World War, but it was rebuilt and reopened to the public in 1951. The Poldi Pezzoli Museum has the best collection of Italian Renaissance art and includes a large variety of decorative elements made of porcelain, sculptures, tapestries, and watches. The ‘Golden Room’ in this museum proudly displays artworks by acclaimed artists Botticelli and Antonia Pollaiolo. Though the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan has a varied collection, it is a relatively small museum that is well-suited for a short visit.
Poldi Pezzoli Museum Highlights
- The Armoury
- Botticelli’s ‘Lamentation over the Dead Christ with Saints’
- Antonio Pollaiolo’s ‘Ritratto di giovane dama’
- Andrea Mantegna’s ‘Madonna and Child’
- Botticelli’s ‘Madonna of the Book’
#10 Sforza Museum
Art Museum in the Castello Sforzesco of Milan
The Castello Sforza or Sforza Museum is an iconic red brick castle that functioned as a mighty fortress during the fourteenth century. The museum is the most famous landmark in Milan and you should most definitely take out the time to visit this iconic museum in Milan! The Sforza Museum is made up of seven specialized museums. These are the Museum of Ancient Art, Pinacoteca del Castello Sforza, Museum of Musical Instruments, Egyptian Museum, Archaeological Museum of Milan, Applied Arts Collection, and the Antique Furniture and Wooden Sculpture Museum. The Sforza Museum also contains the last, unfinished work of the famous artist, Michelangelo. If you want to make the most of your visit to Milan and experience the rich heritage and glorious culture of Italy, then the Sforza Museum should be on your itinerary!
Sforza Museum Highlights
Recommended Sforza Museum Tickets
- Michelangelo’s unfinished ‘Rondanini Pietà’
- Andrea Mantegna’s ‘Trivulzio Madonna’
- Vincenzo Foppa’s ‘Saint Sebastian’
- Bramantino’s ‘Noli Me tangere’ or ‘Touch me not’
- Equestrian Tomb of Bernarbò Visconti
Sforza Museum Reviews
We really enjoyed out day! Directions for ticket and audioguide were clear and the host was easy to find.
- Kristýna, Headout, June 2022
#11 Leonardo3 Museum
Interactive Museum in Milan
Located in the heart of Milan, the Leonardo3 Museum is an interactive museum and exhibition center that is solely dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci’s works. This experiential museum in Milan not only showcases the work of Da Vinci as an artist but also brings to life some of Leonardo’s most famous works as an inventor. You will find more than 200 interactive and 3D reconstructions of Leonardo Da Vinci’s works, including a digital reconstruction of one of his most famous paintings ‘The Last Supper,’ in the Leonardo3 Museum. In addition to this, there are lots of multimedia display stations, artistic works, and even the codices of Leonardo Da Vinci in a virtual format here. Accessible and interesting for all ages, the Leonardo3 museum is one of the best museums in Milan for a fun, informative, and educational family outing.
Leonardo3 Museum Highlights
Recommended Leonardo3 Museum Tickets
- Time Machine
- Mechanical Dragonfly
- Mechanical Eagle
- Rapid-Fire Crossbow
Located in a villa designed by an architect, the Villa Necchi Campiglio museum in Milan has the best collection of decorative arts, paintings, and period furniture. Surrounded by a peaceful garden, a swimming pool, and a tennis court, the Villa Necchi Campiglio was commissioned by the Necchi Campiglio family-an affluent, middle-class family of Italy. The building was completed by renowned architect Piero Portaluppi in 1935. Like many other museums in Milan, the Villa Necchi Campiglio was also damaged during the Second World War. Post the war, architect Tomas Buzzi made some changes to this museum in Milan.
The Villa Necchi Campiglio museum will give you an insight into the lifestyle of affluent families in Italy during the 1930s. The museum also offers guided tours and various other interesting activities for its visitors.
Villa Necchi Campiglio Highlights
- Angelo’s Studio
- Nedda Necchi’s Room
- Alighiero ed Emilietta Collection
Tips to Explore Museums in Milan
- These tips will come in handy when planning your visit and visiting any of the museums in Milan.
- The best way to explore the museums in Milan is on foot. So make sure you wear comfortable footwear when visiting the museums.
- We recommend that you book your tickets well in advance to avoid last-minute hassles. Coming as a walk-in visitor to any of the museums in Milan does not guarantee you admission to the museum.
- When booking your tickets, keep in mind the best times to visit each of the museums mentioned above.
- Though most COVID restrictions have been lifted in Milan, we still recommend that you carry a face mask with you.
- Keep your phone on silent mode and check with museums beforehand about photography and videography inside the museums.
- For a wholesome experience, opt for guided tours of the museums in Milan wherever possible.
- Since many of the museums in Milan are related in some or the other way to the Church, try to dress modestly.
- Make sure you arrive at least 15 minutes before your chosen time slot for the guided tours at the museums in Milan.
Some of the best museums in Milan are the Duomo Milan Museum, The National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci and the Pinacoteca di Brera.
Most of the museums in Milan are not free. You have to pay an entrance fee to visit the museum. However, the museums in Milan do offer discounted rates for certain visitors and even allow free admission on certain days.
Since the entrance fee varies from museum to museum, we suggest that you check the website of the museum you want to visit before booking your tour.
The National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci, Leonardo’s Vineyard, and the Leonardo3 Museum are some of the newest museums in Milan.
Most of the museums in Milan are related in some way or the other to the Church. We recommend that you dress modestly-shoulders and midriff covered, dresses should reach the knees when visiting any of the museums in Milan.