Pinacoteca di Brera (art gallery)

Address: Via Brera 28, Milan, 20121, Italy
Telephone: 02 722 631

- Budget


A superb collection of masterpieces for those who wish to wallow in the greatest of art.

This grand palazzo, built over a 14th-century convent, was taken over by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria in 1773 to house many of the grand cultural institutions of the city. She charged Neo-Classical architect Giuseppe Piermarini with the redesign, which was to include an Academy of Fine Arts, a major library and the Pinacoteca di Brera, originally conceived as a style library of Italian art for use by the students.

Napoleon had other ideas when he arrived in town however, turning the collection into a major art museum. It now contains a superb range of works by many of the finest Italian artists from the 13th to the 20th centuries – people such as Mantegna, Bellini, Piero della Francesca, Caravaggio, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and Canaletto.

There’s a huge concentration of religious art as the works, notably those by Leonardo and Raphael, were “acquired” by the state during the suppression of various monasteries. And, during a swap arrangement with the Louvre, the collection gained five 17th-century Flemish works by Rubens, Joardens, Van Dyck and Rembrandt. A major post-war gift added works by artists including Braque and Modigliani.

This is now one of the best art galleries in Italy – a lush sensual feast of colour. If a few too many of the angels are rolling their eyes to heaven, it's small price to pay for such a treat.

Value for money

Price advice

Entrance is five euros, 2.50 concessions.

Expert tips

Behind the gallery is the Orto Botanico di Brera (Botanical Garden) while the via Brera is one of the best places to find a lively café culture.

Recommended for

  • Backpackers / Students
  • Couples
  • Culture vultures
  • First-time travellers
  • Seasoned travellers
  • Sightseeing
  • Art
  • History