Since it opened in 2011, the museum aims to make its spaces accessible. Accessibility is being considered in several ways: physical access to adjoining buildings to enable visitors to enjoy all spaces (three buildings and the garden) and intellectual access to the contents presented. The Gallerie d’Italia is accessible to all visitors with a physical, cognitive or sensory disability.
Principal access interventions :
- Maintain and develop the good physical access of the spaces
- Improve the legibility of the written information in the museum
- Maintain and enrich the visitor experience using suitable media
- Maintain and expand the specific learning offer available for different groups of people with a disability
- The museum is situated on Piazza della Scala in Milan, in the touristic centre of town.
The architectural complex of the Gallerie d’Italia comprises three buildings: the Anguissola palace, le Brentani palace and the palace of the bank Banca Commerciale Italiana. These adjoining buildings built between C18 and the beginning of C20 have been connected to create a spacious museum of modern and contemporary art. This private museum has been established as part of the Progetto Cultura (Culture Project) led by Banca Intesa San Paolo. The fist part of the museum formed by Palazzo Angissola et Palazzo Brentani was inaugurated in 2011. An exhibition of 197 works of C19 curated by conservator Fernando Mazzoccat are on show under the title “From Canova to Boccioni”, In 2012, the remaining part of the museum was inaugurated at the palace of the Banca Commerciale Italiana, which houses the C20 collections. The museum now has a total surface of 8300 m2.
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Written by :
- Anna Pericoli’s cultural mediator, Gallerie d’Italia Piazza Scala, Milano
- Isabella Tiziana Steffan, Studio Steffan – Progettazione e Ricerca, Milano
Heritage significance and attractiveness
- Important collection of Italian C19-20 art with 197 works from C19 and 89 works from C20
- A single visit to 3 major palaces of Milan
- Visit to the garden of Palazzo Anguissola
- Temporary exhibitions
- Located in the heart of Milan’s touristiccentre (and the immediate vicinity of La Scala theatre)
The three adjoining buildings had not previously been connected and presented different floor levels. The resulting barriers had to be overcome. The length of the museum discovery tour and the width of the spaces also presented accessibility challenges. The art collection (essentially C19-20 paintings and sculptures) and how it would presented to a diversity of audiences received careful attention.
Physical access to the museum spaces was from the beginning an integral part of the restoration programme of the three buildings that form the core of the Gallerie d’Italia.
While respecting history, the significance of the heritage and fittings, a number measures were taken to ensure that all environments are physically accessible. Ramps and lifts connecting all floors and floor levels were installed. Staff received training in welcoming all audience groups. All educational group visits have been developed so as to be inclusive of allele audiences. A tactile book with simplified representations of several works of art has been produced for visually impaired people in collaboration with the state tactile museum Museo Omero in Ancona.
Maintain and develop the good physical access of the spaces
A visitor discovery route was created specifically for the Gallerie d’Italia, with handrails in the corridors, seating in all spaces and mechanical and graded access solutions for overcoming the differences in floor levels. The museum seeks to give visitors the freedom to choose the itinerary that best meets their individual needs and ensures the best possible visitor experience. Wheelchairs are available free of charge.
Improve the legibility of written information in the museum
A variety of text panels are placed on the discovery tour of the permanent collections of C19 art. They are fitted with a backlight system. Legibility of the texts is enhanced by an accentuated black and white colour contrast.
Labels have been produced using the same contrasts (white against black background). Different fonts have been chosen for printing the names of artists in capitals and the titles of the works in italics.
Maintain and enrich the visitor experience using suitable media
The museum hub of Milan commits to making culture more enjoyable and accessible. A wide range of workshops and educational visits are on offer. They complement text panel information with digital media such as iPads, as well as film, cinematographic, historic, literary and artistic materials in several languages.
Maintain and expand the specific learning offer available for different groups of people with a disability
Many projects are taking place for people with a visual impairment or a learning disability. As an example, the Civita Culture project is a collaboration with the rehabilitation centre Visual Pavia IRCCS Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri and the tactile Museo Omero in Ancona, with the support of the Italian Blind Union, Lombardy section. The project entails a discovery tour accompanied by a trained guide and the tactile exploration of simplified raised images, as well as the exploration of some sculptures by touch. The visit is in three parts: it starts off with the exploration of a tactile map and an introduction to the tactile visit, after which comes the description of the spaces accompanied by historical and art historical information on the gallery’s architectural and exhibition spaces. It ends with the tactile exploration of some sculptures.
Participants are provided with tactile images with representations of selected works brought together in a booklet. Their graphic design does not aim at recalling the volume of the objects, but to draw out the points of contact, lines and surfaces that compose the work. Complex objects, even three dimensional ones, can be represented by two dimensional (raised line) drawings.
Pure emotional perception is the aim of this approach, which differs from the historical ways of learned art critics and is a move towards an affective experience via sensory perception. The museum also provides a tour to visitors with Alzheimer of which the main aim is to enable a complete social and inter-human experience through the use of art works. The project is named “A walk in the museums of Milan” and is the result of a collaboration between Manuli Onlus and Civita Cultura under the patronage of Fondazione Cariplo.
Gallerie d’Italia’s aim to be accessible has led to the creation of discovery tours, spaces and services specifically designed for people with mobility difficulties, people with a visual impairment and people with mental impairment. The museum’s visitors have encountered freedom of movement made possible by lifts, wheelchairs on a free loan and staff available at key points to ensure visitor safety. The various activities on offer at the museum have created a relational continuity with visitors. Word of mouth among stakeholder NGOs and a massive information campaign have resulted in a 40% increase in the number of participants in 2015-16. Feedback received, interest raised and the increase in visitor numbers validates the smooth working of the museum and the success and synergies of collaborative projects.
Photo credits: Gallerie d’Italia
Players and processes
- Client: Banque Intesa San Paolo
- Architect: Studio architetto Michele De Lucchi S.r.l
- Graphic design: Mercedes Jaén Ruiz, Maddalena Molteni
- Models : Francesco Faccin, Giuseppe Filippini
- Restoration of interior spaces
- Connecting the three buildings together (making different floor levels accessible with lifts and ramps)
- Development of a discovery trail easy to understand for all
- Creation of legible and easy to understand graphic design and wayfinding signage
- Expanding learning with the use digital media
- Providing a learning offer for specific groups of people with a disability