Although most people probably think first of the Renaissance period when considering what era of art and artists to enjoy while in Milan, it should come as no surprise that the fashion and design capital of Italy also hosts a modern art museum that is very interesting both from a spatial perspective and in terms of the permanent and temporary exhibits it shows. It is called the Fondazione Prada.
As the museum’s website explains http://www.fondazioneprada.org, the Milan venue consists of 10 buildings, 3 completed as recently as 2015, with the older buildings transformed from a distillery dating back to the 1910’s. One of the recent new buildings, called the Torre, is 60 meters high, with 9 floors all of different dimensions, heights, and orientations. Half of the floors are in the shape of rectangles, and half are trapezoidal. The ceiling heights increase from the bottom to the top floor and the external facades alternate between concrete and glass. Another building is covered in 24 carat gold leaf.
The Restaurant Torre is only open in the late afternoon/evening, so we weren’t able to visit it, but by the looks of it, we will clearly return for the incredible views it provides of Milan. Even though we didn’t get to the restaurant, we saw spectacular views of Milan from the Torre floors we explored. The photos are at the bottom of this post.
We were able to enjoy the Bar Luce on the ground level, designed by film director Wes Anderson, which space is designed to recreate the atmosphere of a typical Milanese cafe. In designing the cafe, Anderson said “I tried to make a bar I would want to spend my own non-fictional afternoons in.” He retained some of the architectural and decorative details from the original structure, such as the arched ceiling, which recreates a miniature version of the vaulted glass roof of the Galleria near the Duomo. Other elements of the Galleria are evident as well. See for yourself and compare to our photos of the Galleria in other blog entries. This bar area is intended to be a hotspot for the general public and a regular neighborhood hangout. It was beautiful.
After we enjoyed our morning caffé and brioche, we got our tickets and embarked on a whirlwind exploration of the temporary and permanent exhibits. The docents on each floor were gracious and spoke English well enough to explain the exhibits, including through the usage of subjective terms that conveyed emotions and spiritual concepts. Since Kevin and I still can’t speak Italian in anything other than the present tense, I was impressed!
I would recommend a visit to the museum for any modern art enthusiast with an open mind. As Mom said during our tour, you will walk away surprised if you are expecting to see a lot of paintings. Although there are some paintings (Picasso-like, in my opinion), the majority of the exhibits are more physical structures in nature. If you are over 65 or under 18, the museum is free. And even if you aren’t a huge modern art lover, the views of the city are enough to warrant a trip. It will be nice to contrast this experience with our visit to the Pinacoteca di Brera, which we will surely visit soon!