Museo Diocesano Announces Extensive Renovation

The revamped museum is expected to be fully completed by 2026.

The galleries of the Milan Diocesan Museum house the art collections of the Archdiocese of Milan. Museo Diocesano

On Monday afternoon, Lombardy Governor Attilio Fontana, Milan Archbishop Mario Enrico Delpini, and Milan City Councilor for Culture Tommaso Sacchi signed the agreement that officially starts an extensive renovation of the Diocesan Museum of Milan.

The project includes an overall revamping of the buildings that will unite the museum complex by bringing together the Renaissance Portinari Chapel, the art collections of the Milan archdiocese, and the rooms for temporary exhibitions of the museum masterfully directed by Nadia Righi.

The concept for the renovation has been entrusted to Davide Rampello, an artistic director known for his work as a curator and creative orchestrator. Mr. Rampello imagined a chronologically divided itinerary that begins in 313 A.D. with Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan and traces the history of the city from the Roman Empire to the 20th century.

The visit to the new diocesan museum envisioned by Davide Rampello begins with a room dedicated to Roman Milan in which a huge screen will allow visitors to see what the city looked like during the Roman Empire. Drawing by Rampello & Partners.

In the new museum envisioned by Mr. Rampello, the starting point will be the Portinari Chapel, “one of the absolute masterpieces of Milanese culture,” he said. Mr. Rampello thought big and in a spectacular way. His idea of the museum includes curved LCD screens, virtual reality, and projections.

According to Mr. Rampello, in the new Diocesan Museum visitors “will see the history of Milan,” before their eyes. Both tourists and citizens “will be able to see Milan in the Roman days, during the age of the basilicas, and the subsequent development of the city over the centuries” he added.

The project, which will cost an unspecified “several million euros,” calls for a new garden in the first cloister and envisions a reconstruction of one of the wings of the second cloister that faces the parking lot in front of the entrance to the park halfway down Corso di Porta Ticinese.

The parking lot will be replaced by a garden, and a new square, overlooked by bookshops and restaurants that will connect the city to the museum, enlivening a partly forgotten corner of Milan.

The reorganization of the museum’s spaces as envisioned by Davide Rampello. Drawing by Rampello & Partners.

Mr. Rampello’s idea is to “create a museum not only to visit but to live in, to experience,” he said. “A museum that must create a community, must be constantly revitalized by the active presence of young people and families.”

There is a lot of enthusiasm around the project, reiterated by Lombardy Region Governor Attilio Fontana, and Milan City Councilor for Culture Tommaso Sacchi, standing in for Mayor Sala.

“It is always a happy moment when protection and enhancement come together, allowing a treasure such as this monumental complex to be returned to citizens,” Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini wrote in a message congratulating the archbishop for the announcement. “Cultural assets and activities require the fruitful collaboration between public and private entities,” he wrote.

The commitment made on Monday afternoon by the administrations involved is to work together to open the fully renovated museum in 2026, on the occasion of the 25th Olympic Winter Games, despite the fact that there are many details to be defined. The most important of all is the architect who will be in charge of the project. They have assured, however, that it will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Gianmaria Biancuzzi is executive editor of Milano Art Guide.