Leonardo 500 in Milan

What to see in Milan to celebrate Leonardo 500 years

This year marks the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death and seeing as how he spent a big portion of his life in Milan, the city is celebrating with all kinds of cultural offerings. They include everything from art exhibits by Leo himself to exhibits by artists influenced by him. But the events go way beyond just art. Also included are educational talks, multimedia shows, kids’ activities, plays and tours.

This post will focus on the highlights.

Sforza Castle Exhibitions
Leonardo Da Vinci in Milan

Sforza Castle

There are three exhibits at the Sforza Castle that will continue throughout the year.

Sala delle Asse
The Sala delle Asse is a lesser-known work of Leonardo that was commissioned by Ludovico il Moro and features an earthy, monochromatic painting with 16 tree trunks that climb up the walls and bloom into a robust and lush plant life fresco that covers the ceiling. It was completed around the year 1498.

It has been closed off for some time due to restoration works, but it has finally been reopened and even has a platform all the way up the ceiling that will allow visitors to get up close and personal with intertwining limbs and leaves of Leonardo’s tree.
Through January 12, 2020.

Sala delle Armi
Hang with Leo on this virtual tour that allows the viewer to visit his world as it was during his time in Milan.
Through January  12, 2020.

Sala dei Ducali
This exhibit contains is a selection of Renaissance artists including original drawings by Leonardo da Vinci.
Through August 18, 2019.

Castello Sforzesco
Piazza Castello 1, Milan

 Leonardo da Vinci Parade

This funky exhibit combines both art and science and was created with the help of the Pinacoteca di Brera.

The museum took frescoes and drawings from Lombard artists of the 1500s and mixed them up with models based on Leonardo’s works.

The goal is to show “the dialogue between humanistic culture and technical-scientific culture, which has always been part of the institution’s identity, and still inspires the activity of the Museum.”  Sounds so artsy, doesn’t it? The video above gives an idea of what to expect.
July 19, 2018 – October 13,  2019.

Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia 
Via San Vittore 21, Milan


Around Leonardo. The Madonna Litta and the Master’s Workshop.
"Madonna Litta"

“Madonna Litta”

The Madonna Litta is coming home. This work currently hangs in The Hermitage in St. Petersburg (an amazing museum by the way). It was bought by Tsar Alexander II in 1865 from the private collection of Duke Antonio Litta Visconti Arese, who had, in turn, bought it from the Sforza family. In November, the painting will be lent to the gorgeous house museum, Poldi Pezzoli Museum.

This piece is interesting because some art historians attribute this work to Leonardo’s student, Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio. So there is some controversy that surrounds it. Maybe that makes it even more interesting to see – all the intrigue and mystery!
November 8, 2019 – February 10, 2020

Poldi Pezzoli Museum
Via Alessandro Manzoni 12, Milan

Leonardo & Warhol – The Genius Experience

This exhibit combines sound, light and images of Leonardo’s works as well as those things that inspired him, mainly nature. Visitors can walk through the space and be surrounded by Leo. It is similar to “Van Gogh Alive,” but at the end, you also get to see Warhol’s work that was dedicated to Milan and Leonardo. Awesome two for one deal at this exhibit! Mr. Modern Artist meets Mr. Renaissance Artist. 
Through June 30, 2019.

Cripta di San Sepolcro
Piazza S. Sepolcro, Milan


The Last Supper After Leonardo

Even 500 years after his death, Leonardo continues to influence contemporary artists. This exhibit features Wang Guangyi’s interpretation of Leonardo’s “The Last Supper” and is displayed with works by other artists including Nicola Samorì, Robert Longo and Yue Minjun.
Through June 30, 2019.

Stelline Foundation
Corso Magenta 61, Milan

Palazzo Reale Exhibitions
Vincenzo Paolella

Palazzo Reale via Vincenzo Paolella

Leonardo and the Machine of Imagination
This is an immersive and interactive exhibition with seven video installations.

I have not seen it yet, but I am curious because the description is super artsy. Here is how this exhibit is described: “The path is marked by seven video installations, of which five are interactive, which involve the viewer in a story of images and sounds that, starting from Leonardo’s multifaceted legacy, “talk” to us both about his own and about our time. The visitor’s experience passes from observation to participation, moving between shapes that recall the geometric rigor of the platonic solids of Luca Pacioli and are re-shaped into useful tools. In fact, in four sections, the visitor can choose some keywords taken from the Vincian lexicon, which, once pronounced, give life to the video narratives, in which Leonardo’s drawings are placed side by side, traced or revisited by sometimes hyper-realistic films, sometimes almost abstract.”
Ummm….ok. …my curiosity is piqued!
Through July 14, 2019.

Leonardo’s “Last Supper” for Francis I:  A Masterpiece of Silk and Silver

Last Supper Tapestry

Leonardo’s “Last Supper” for Francis I:  A Masterpiece of Silk and Silver

This tapestry copy of “The Last Supper” was recently restored and was originally produced between 1505 and 1510. It was commissioned by Luisa of Savoy and Francis Duke of Angoulême and is on loan from the Vatican Museums. It was one of the first copies of Leonardo’s famous work.
October 7, 2019 – November 17, 2019.

Palazzo Reale
Piazza del Duomo

Leonardo and the Secrets of the Codex
Atlantic Codex - Codex Atlanticus,

Atlantic Codex – Codex Atlanticus

The Ambrosiana Library in Milan will display various exhibits of Leonardo’s works, which will explore aspects of his art and the art of his contemporaries,

Leonardo and the secrets of the Codex Atlanticus.
Through June 16, 2019.

Leonardo in France. Sheets from the French years of the Codex.
June 18 – September 15, 2019.

Leonardo and his legacy: the artists and the techniques. Drawings from the Ambrosiana collection.
September 17,  2019 – January 12, 2020.

Pinacoteca Ambrosiana
Piazza Pio XI 2, Milan

Leonardo da Vince 3D
Another super cool “multisensory event” similar to “Van Gogh Alive” this exhibit draws the visitor into da Vinci’s world with the use of music, holograms and images. In fact, the venue is even the same as the “Van Gogh Alive” show in Milan.
May 30, 2019 – September 22, 2019.
Fabbrica del Vapore
Via Giulio Cesare Procaccini 4, Milan
Fiat 500 Tour of Leo’s Milan
Vintage Fiat 500 Tours Milan

Vintage Fiat 500 Tours Milan

Ok, this is the cutest tour of all! Celebrating Leonardo’s 500 in a vintage Fiat 500! Yes, please! On this tour, you will scoot around Milan in a classic car and hit all the Leo hot spots including: the Ambrosiana Library, The Science and Technology Museum, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Piazza Duomo, Piazza della Scala and others.
Through December 21, 2019.

Via Bagutta, at the corner of Piazza San Babila, Milan

So, if you happen to be in Milan during this celebratory year of Leonardo, there is plenty to see. Below is a map of all the places mentioned in this post. Enjoy!

One Comment on “Leonardo 500 in Milan

  1. Wonderful!

    Just recently went to see an exhibition of a small collection of his drawings in a gallery in Liverpool here in the UK. Amazing to think that these were sketched 500 years ago.

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