GAM – Gallery of Modern Art, located in via Palestro 16, is exactly what you expect: a charming house from the late ‘700 with high and frescoed ceilings, classical statues on the balustrades and large windows on the facade.
However, what you do not expect is a beautiful park around it: an English style garden, the first in Milan, where a rich vegetation let the ancient ruins emerge and a small lake, never fully visible, which offers evocative points of view to the visitor. During the summer the garden is very popular: young men lying on the grass enjoying the sun, families with strollers, older couples looking for a shelter from the sun.
A troubled history that of Villa Belgiojoso, as it was called in ancient times, a masterpiece of Milanese Neoclassicism: designed by Leopoldo Pollock between 1790-1796 for Count L. Belgiojoso, it was then in the hands of the French, until 1921 when it became the main space where to gather Milanese Modern Art’s collections.
The villa is characterised by a classical and rigorous beauty: a cycle of mythological bas-reliefs made by G. Parini, give rhythm to the façade while thirty statues of classical gods stand out against the attic’s balustrades. A three-floors facility, with two lower wings creating an honour court (the entrance to the gallery): elegant and richly decorated both on the façade and inside. If the ground floor seems to be the most sober one, the first floor has a gorgeous decorative structure, built in Napoleonic times: in the Ball Room and Dining Room there are carved doors, chimneys topped by mirrors, crystal chandeliers and walls full of white and gold ornamental elements that mark the turning point towards the emphatic style of the Napoleonic Neoclassicism.
Right at the ground floor of the villa you can visit, until September 4th 2016, the exhibition “Six rooms, a nineteenth-century history“, a journey dedicated to the unreleased pictorial works from the Museum’s Collections. Six rooms take the visitor through the discovery of the art collections and their creation with 62 masterpieces that have never been exhibited before. A path made of art works preserved in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna’s deposits in which the protagonists are Francesco Hayez, Vittore Grubicy de Dragon , Domenico and Gerolamo Induno, Mosè Bianchi, Filippo Carcano, Gaetano Previati and others.
The exhibition aims to give emphasis to this history through the richness of a hidden heritage and its most significant groups from both the artistic point of view and the links with the history of the city, its cultural and social evolution. The exhibition is divided into six sections that explore the main themes of the nineteenth-century figurative research such as the Portrait, the Landscape, the Scene of genre, Still life, and finally, a special section dedicated to the art movements of Realism and Symbolism.
GAM is an architectural masterpiece: an immersion in the classical beauty, visiting the villa you can breathe history, art and culture. It remains a fundamental point in a Milan that changes, evolves, changing scenarios and transforming its neighbourhoods.