Pinacoteca Ambrosiana

October 19, 2011 / Art & Archaeology
Milan, Lombardia

The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, a public art gallery, was established in 1618 alongside the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, the library. Federico Borromeo, the archbishop of Milan, founded the picture gallery for the students of the Academy of Painting and Sculpture so that they might visit and be inspired.

From the outside it’s a simple building, but inside is an unexpected treasure trove of artwork, from a mosaic-decorated staircase, to a transplanted church’s stain glass windows to Raphael’s giant cartone (cartoon) of the ‘School of Athens’ affresco in the Vatican. Among the Caravaggio and Botticelli originals are paintings copied by the academy’s art students, in order to learn from the masters, such as Leonardo’s Last Supper.

Then there is the hidden surprise of the Pinacoteca’s amazing courtyard – a series of arches and statues.

Finally one enters the library with its collection of over 800 antique manuscripts on display from floor to ceiling. This is the home of Leonardo’s technical-drawings, doodles and notes that make up the Codex Atlanticus. It’s not hard to imagine the novice artists who roamed the rooms in search of a muse.

Jean Tori

by Jean Tori

Artist- Art website: Art blog: Design company: Jean also rents holiday houses in her medieval hamlet in Umbria at

7 Responses to “Pinacoteca Ambrosiana”

  1. Linda Boccia

    This was an interesting explanation, but lacked any usable details like the address, hours and days of the week it is open. For those of us living in Italy and or traveling to Milano soon,which is my case, I have a reservation for The Last Supper (Il Cenacolo), next week as we will be visitng family nearby and some of these academies might have also been interesting, yet having to source out the details makes it less likely that we would be able to visit them.

    Grazie e per favore includere piu’ informazione la prossima volta.

  2. You are very right! Sorry about that! The address is Piazza Pio XI. at number 2. Basically the only large free standing building in the piazzetta. You can find all the details on their website:
    But the good news is you don’t have to book as it is never full, so you can decide to go at the last minute. It’s open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm.
    Hope that helps and if not this trip another as it is definitely worth a visit.

  3. Dante Bianchi

    To Linda B., I would remind her that this is Italy. Relax! Even if you have all the information you requested the place might be open, and then again, it might not. We attempted to visit it in May but it was closed for “maintenance.” A very nice fellow came out and gave us some reading material, however, about the Pinacoteca. We will try to visit it next we are in Milano.

  4. roger hainsworth

    Years ago when the world – and I was young I spent a day and a night in Milan. I bitterly regret a lost opportunity! Lovely article, Would love to hear more about this wonderful place. Best wishes, Roger

  5. Thanks Roger and Penny. And Dante, maintenance?!?! Oh my goodness, considering that it took about 2 decades to renovate, I’m gobsmacked! But I guess in the era of things falling to pieces, as long as there is maintenance it’s a good thing, even though one misses seeing things. When I used to live in Milan in the 60s I only went once, so I’ve been enjoying visiting whenever I go up to Milan as they have been rotating drawings from the Codex Atlanticus, which are fascinating.

  6. GB, Thanks. This article really captures the essence of what we love about Italy… what makes it special. The sight of the Arrotinao is common enough but seldom recognized in a formal way such as this documented observation. Spot on!


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