Museo Poldi Pezzoli

The Museo Poldi Pezzoli is an art museum in Milan, Italy, that opened its doors on 26 April 1881. What makes this museum truly special is that it is one of the first "house museums" created. The owner, Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli, "had Giuseppe Balzaretto build a new block to his house, twin to his seventeenth-century family mansion in 'the Garden lane' (now Via Manzoni), between 1850 and 1853,. His repeated stays in Paris allowed him to visit the new Musée des Thermes et de l'Hotel de Cluny, created by Alexandre du Sommerard. A pioneer of the romantic museum design: a collection not only made up of paintings and statues, but with precious furniture and decorative art, also chosen to evoke an artificial atmosphere of home. The resounding success of this new interpretation of the past and concept of museum gave the idea to Poldi Pezzoli of building a house-museum, which would be among the first and most current examples at European level of the house-museum in historic style, and one that was greatly admired by his contemporaries."

"Gian Giacomo and his collection had a big political role, he was a nationalist at a time when there was no Italian nation. His love for the Italian Risorgimento's ideals is shown by his active participation the rebellion of the Five Days which sparked the First Italian War of Independence With the other Milanese nobles he bought an artillery command for the Lombard army and subsidized the Piedmontese army. In 1848 he also obtained an official role, although not prominent: he was sent to Venice as Special Commissioner of the Provisional Government of Lombardy in the Venetian provinces.

This obvious opposition to the Austrian rule forced him, after the Italian defeat in August 1848, to go in exile in Lugano. His name appeared in the list of citizens to whom the Marshal Josef Radetzky gave a heavy fine. The exile in Switzerland was a fundamental experience for his intellectual and political growth. He was able to obtained a passport in 1849 and went on a trip all around Europe. He went first in France and then in other Italian States, residing for a long time in Florence. He was finally forced to return home in Milan and had to pay a fine of 600,000 Austrian liras to regain possession of his property.

Milan during that time was dominated by Austrian censorship and Giacomo Poldi was from now on only able to play a smaller political role. He opposed the Austrian by blatantly showing his patriotism and instead reserved all his efforts to create an ancient Italian art collection joining the ranks of the great art patrons. With the creation of the house museum Poldi pezzoli he also contributed to the promotion of the Italian art as form of rebellion towards Austria."

Gian Giacomo's intention by creating the Museo Poldi Pezzoli was always to leave its heritage to the people of Milan, as stated in his last will and testament "The museum would consists of his home and personal art collection, preserved "for public use and benefit in perpetuity with the standards the Pinacoteca di Brera ".

"Poldi Pezzoli began a process of publicizing his collections. In 1872 he became a member of the Executive Committee of The Ancient Art Exhibition held at the Brera Academy, an exhibition that featured a selection of private Milanese collections in which an entire room was devoted to the presentation of masterpieces from his collection.

Two years later, the city organized an Historical exhibition of industrial art, the aim was also to initiate a civic museum dedicated to the congenerical arts. The expertise gained from Poldi Pezzoli in collecting art was ratified by his appointment as commissioner officer of four sections: weapons, glass, ivory and bronze. Using this occasion he exposed half of his collections, nearly a thousand objects.

He suddenly died of a heart attack on April 6, 1879 in his palace in Milan. He was buried in Bellagio, in a neo-Gothic style mausoleum romantically isolated that Charles Maciacchini had built for him. April 26, 1881, the museum opened to the public in accordance with his instructions, on the occasion of the Milan National Exhibition."

Pictured here is one of the extraordinary Persian carpets in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli - "Tappeto delle Tigri"