Museo Diocesano celebrates 20th anniversary

The Museo Diocesano Carlo Maria Martini in Milan is turning 20 years old this year. 

The cloister of the Museo Diocesano in Milan. Museo Diocesano

The Museo Diocesano Carlo Maria Martini in Milan is turning 20 years old this year. 

The history of the museum began in 2001, when Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini inaugurated it, completing a project to which some of the greatest Milanese archbishops of the 20th century made crucial contributions.

The museum’s origins date back to an initial intuition of Ildefonso Schuster in 1931, later taken up by Cardinal Montini in 1960, who indicated the cloisters of Sant’Eustorgio as the site for the new museum.

Finally, it was Cardinal Martini who, in the late 1980s, had the difficult task of starting the reconstruction of the buildings which had been seriously damaged by bombing during the Second World War.

Among the various initiatives to celebrate the anniversary, the museum will host Titian’s masterpiece “Annunciation,” on loan from the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte in Naples. The painting comes from the Neapolitan church of San Domenico Maggiore, the only one in the world to have preserved paintings by Raphael, Titian, and Caravaggio.

Titian (Pieve di Cadore c. 1490-Venice 1576) Annunciation. Oil on canvas, 281.5 x 193.5 cm. Naples, Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte. From the church of San Domenico Maggiore, Naples. Property of the Fondo Edifici di Culto administered by the Ministry of the Interior.

It was painted by Titian for the Pinelli family, bankers, and merchants of Genoese origin who had moved to Naples, for their chapel in the church’s transept, completed in 1575.

Signed “Titianus f” on the kneeler, the work is one of the milestones of the artist’s maturity and represents a rare episode of Venetian painting in 16th-century Naples. Painted at the end of the 1550s, the canvas reveals the highest achievements of the mature Titian, with extraordinary effects of the light, particularly in the angel’s glittering robes, in pink and silver damask, woven with gold threads. The space is dominated by a single architectural element, the imposing column behind the Virgin, while in the background, on the left, there is a view of an autumnal landscape, with brown and red tones that stand out against the blue sky.

The streeart collective Orticanoodles decorated the outside wall of the Museum for its 20th anniversary. Photo Museo Diocesano.

“We are delighted to celebrate our first twenty years with new initiatives with a strong identity and symbolic of the path taken by the museum since its foundation,” said Nadia Righi, director of the Diocesan Museum. In its first twenty years, the Diocesan Museum has established itself as an institution open to the different artistic expressions of the contemporary creative universe, cultivating a constant dialogue with significant artists of international prestige. In this spirit, a mural painting by the Milanese street-artists Orticanoodles has been commissioned for the occasion.

On the outside wall of the museum, along the side overlooking Parco Delle Basiliche and Corso di Porta Ticinese, the graffiti depicts some leading figures in Christianity, including Carlo Maria Martini, the museum’s founder, together with portraits of Saints Ambrose, patron saint of the city, and Charles Borromeo.

Gianmaria Biancuzzi is Executive Editor of Milano Art Guide. He writes a column on photography for Exibart and previously he reported for Zero.eu from 2016 to 2020. He is the creator and co-curator of the best-selling “The Colouring Book” published by 24OreCultura in 2020.