Masterpieces by Raphael and Masaccio to Come to Milan

A season full of distinguished ‘guests’ but also challenges lies ahead for the Diocesan Museum, which unveiled to Milano Art Guide the highlights of the coming months.

Among the highlights of the Diocesan Museum’s new season, Masaccio’s masterpiece the “Crucifixion” will be on loan in 2023 from the Museum of Capodimonte, in Naples.

Thanks to digital initiatives and simple but clever strategic choices to attract a wider audience, the museum in the Cloisters of Sant’Eustorgio remains a favourite destination for Milanese and tourists alike.

The museum has never been so welcoming. In the last few years, Nadia Righi, the director, transformed it into a cosy place where visitors can spend a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of the city, immersed in its history. Walking around, it is not unusual to meet her personally interacting with guests.

The many initiatives that the museum organises are always a good excuse to keep coming back. Throughout the summer, tickets are €10 (until 8 August). Admission includes a visit to the Elliott Erwitt exhibition, curated by Biba Giacchetti, and an elegant aperitivo at the charming and newly renovated bistro, which is also open for lunch, and from 6 pm, serves refreshing drinks with sophisticated tapas.

In the garden, the museum also hosts a series of talks on fascinating topics concerning the history of art – from Van Gogh to Raphael – introduced by scholars and historians.

For the coming season, the Diocesan Museum renews its commitment to photography exhibitions. After the Maurizio Galimberti exhibition, last winter, and the frequent collaborations with the Magnum agency, an in-depth look at photography will be back on the calendar.

Museo Diocesano
The aperitivo is free with the exhibition ticket, or the exhibition is free with the aperitivo. During summer, the Diocesan Museum in Milan adopts a well-established formula for attracting both local and tourists. Photo Museo Diocesano Milano.

The great protagonists of the next year, however, will be two exceptional guests lent by prominent museums. For the Christmas season, “Un Capolavoro per Milano” (A Masterpiece for Milan) – a popular format of the museum – will return for its 14th edition. The exhibition revolves around a single masterpiece, on loan.

This year, the predella of Raphael’s “Oddi Altarpiece” from the Vatican Museums in Rome will be the guest of honour. For three months, visitors will have the opportunity to admire up close one of Raphael’s most powerful works. The predella is composed of three different paintings, showing scenes of the life of Mary, mother of Jesus: “The Annunciation,” “The Adoration of the Magi,” and the “Presentation in the Temple.” The legendary altarpiece was commissioned in 1502 by Alessandra Baglioni, wife of Simone Degli Oddi known as ‘the Great’ for the family chapel in the church of San Francesco al Prato, in Perugia.

From February to May, the museum will welcome Masaccio’s “Crucifixion,” a pivotal work in the history of Western art. The painting on wood was part of the Pisa Polyptych, an altarpiece partly dismembered and now dispersed among various cities including Pisa, Berlin, London, Naples, and Malibu, California.

The “Crucifixion,” on loan from the Capodimonte Museum in Naples, is a true revolution in the history of images. Masaccio provides an impression of truth by painting the scene from below, as the observer standing before the altar would have actually seen it. Although the story is unnaturalistically presented on a gold backdrop — a medieval formula for depicting religious subjects — Masaccio tries to bind the spectator to the scenario to make the sacred scene comprehensible for the average Christian.

A season full of events at the museum lies ahead, but also “a season full of challenges,” Ms. Righi told me. “This year was the most difficult, more so than 2020.”

After the most intense months of the pandemic, in which visitors dropped dramatically, the museum is getting back into full swing with its audience. “Ours is a proximity audience that we have managed to engage with,” Ms. Righi said. “Foreign tourists have also increased. Many people follow us from abroad. They know the museum and are happy to come back.”

Museo Diocesano di Milano is open from Monday to Sunday, 6 – 10 pm, and closed for the summer break from 8 to 24 August. (Corso di Porta Ticinese, 95;

Gianmaria Biancuzzi is executive editor of Milano Art Guide.