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One just has to enter Palazzo Reale, formerly Royal Ducal, to imagine, on seeing the fine staircase in the hall, period garments and elegant women in the regal interiors, enjoying the atmosphere of court life and its refined banquets. Moving through the halls, one thinks of how the court, in 1769, sent for the architect Luigi Vanvitelli to commission the superb palace, and how the latter entrusted its construction to his brilliant apprentice Giuseppe Piermarini.
The interiors were also commissioned from famous artists, such as the Maggiolini family. The classic, attractive interiors of this location bring the splendour of the Neoclassical style to life. The structure and its halls (the Halls of Tapestries and Caryatids) represent a journey through history, as over successive periods it became the political centre, royal palace, and then a cultural location for Milan.
Today, Palazzo Reale is one of the most important exhibition venues in the city: modern and contemporary art, and also fashion and design shows, find a perfect setting in these sumptuous interiors.
Some figures give an idea of the venue’s importance: every year, over 1,500 masterpieces from the most famous museums in the world are exhibited in a space of 7,000 square metres. These are often works that have left a tangible memory: Botero’s shapes and invention, Kandinsky’s abstract painting, the Futurist brilliance of Boccioni and Balla, Monet’s Impressionism, and the Scapigliatura style of painting.
Palazzo Reale played an important political role from early on in the city’s history. A building here was the seat of the city’s government from the early Middle Ages. Its importance as a political centre increased with the rules of the Torriani, Visconti and Sforza families.
Increasingly the location for sumptuous court life, investitures and receptions, in the second half of the 18th century, under Austrian rule, the Palace was decorated in a style based on Maria Theresa’s “Barocchetto” style (Lombard Rococo).
The great Neoclassical renovation performed by Giuseppe Piermarini took place towards the end of the 18th century. From then on, it was a palace for the rulers of the city, including Maria Theresa, Napoleon, Ferdinand I, and the Savoy family, Italy’s royal family.
This is why so many illustrious artists enriched its halls with magnificent works of art, paintings and furnishings, to celebrate the glory of kings and emperors. In 1920, Palazzo Reale became the property of the State of Italy, and it was opened to visits by the general public.
The Sala delle Cariatidi (Hall of the Caryatids), built on the site of the old theatre that was destroyed by fire: a unique interior that survived the 1943 air raid.
The tapestries halls, with decorated ceilings, chandeliers, and monochrome ornamental friezes painted to designs by Giacomo Albertolli.
In 1951, Pablo Picasso chose Palazzo Reale, which had been bombed in 1943, as an emblematic location for the exhibition of his painting “Guernica”.
In 1953, a show on Caravaggio was held at Palazzo Reale, directed by Roberto Longhi.
The interiors were decorated by painter Giulio Traballesi and sculptors Giuseppe Franchi, Gaetano Caldani and Giocondo Albertolli.
Furnishings include pieces by Giuseppe Maggiolini.
Palazzo Reale is run by the exhibition management structure that is also responsible for Rotonda di via Besana, Palazzo della Ragione and Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea.
The museum can be reached by M1/M3 Duomo stop.