Nuovo Museo dell’Arte – Fondazione Luigi Rovati

The building is thus transformed into a journey of art through time

Art and architecture between form and matter, between city and civilization

The history of a building is important: its stratifications given by time, its modifications, its architecture reflect the culture and vicissitudes of the families that have inhabited it, and the context in which they lived.
In the heart of Milan, MCA has developed an architectural renovation project of an historic 19th-century building, and to extend and annex additional areas for museum uses.
Studio MCA was also entrusted with the interior design, the museum displays, and the general art direction.

The project was born of a desire by Fondazione Luigi Rovati to create a museum within the historic 19thcentury Bocconi-Rizzoli-Carraro Palace for displaying an important collection of Etruscan artifacts.

A non-conventional architecture was developed in which references to the Etruscan tombs of Cerveteri evoke that civilization’s lively relationship with the world beyond death. Hypogeum-inspired spaces were inserted under the palace and extended beneath the garden, including three domed rooms that create an atmosphere of mysticism and suspense.

©Giovanni De Sandre

MCA archive

MCA archive

©Giovanni De Sandre

The itinerary is given a chiaroscuro effect by large slabs of bright Pietra Serena sandstone, while constellations of vases seem to float in mid-air, supported by suspended planes that are almost invisible within large transparent display cases.

Upon leaving this evocative museum space, visitors emerge into the 19th-century architecture of the palace, the renovation of which includes the creation of a “newfound home” designed specifically for preserving the rest of the foundation’s ancient art collection. The upper floors of the building contain spaces connected with the museum operations, including a library, a conference room, temporary exhibition rooms, and a restaurant at the top floor. A large entry hall welcomes visitors at the ground floor, where there is also a bookstore that links the bistro with the courtyard garden. The project was founded on the idea of creating a museum that would be open to the city, where visitors could stop by for a chat and a look around, lik...

The itinerary is given a chiaroscuro effect by large slabs of bright Pietra Serena sandstone, while constellations of vases seem to float in mid-air, supported by suspended planes that are almost invisible within large transparent display cases.

Upon leaving this evocative museum space, visitors emerge into the 19th-century architecture of the palace, the renovation of which includes the creation of a “newfound home” designed specifically for preserving the rest of the foundation’s ancient art collection. The upper floors of the building contain spaces connected with the museum operations, including a library, a conference room, temporary exhibition rooms, and a restaurant at the top floor. A large entry hall welcomes visitors at the ground floor, where there is also a bookstore that links the bistro with the courtyard garden. The project was founded on the idea of creating a museum that would be open to the city, where visitors could stop by for a chat and a look around, like guests in a simple but refined urban living room.

©Giovanni De Sandre

  • ©Giovanni De Sandre

  • ©Giovanni De Sandre

  • ©Giovanni De Sandre

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Interior

Founder

©Giovanni De Sandre

The below-ground space is accessed from the main entrance, where a staircase carved in pietra forte fiorentina, a material extracted from quarries in Tuscany and Emilia, leads to the exhibition space, consisting of three circular rooms and a large elliptical room. This space, which is in semi-darkness, is enveloped by 30,000 stone segments, each one individually designed and skilfully built and assembled so that they continuously envelop the entire space: a formal continuity that gives it a sense of unity and fluidity.

The choice of a single type of stone, pietra forte fiorentina, gives expression to a material that is extracted from deep quarries in Firenzuola. It gives the impression of a space that has been hollowed out: subtracted just as quarries are hollowed out to become works of architecture of unconscious beauty. Because of the size of each segment, which is 5 centimetres thick, one metre long, and is distanced 5 millimetres from its neighbours, the horizontal stripe...

The below-ground space is accessed from the main entrance, where a staircase carved in pietra forte fiorentina, a material extracted from quarries in Tuscany and Emilia, leads to the exhibition space, consisting of three circular rooms and a large elliptical room. This space, which is in semi-darkness, is enveloped by 30,000 stone segments, each one individually designed and skilfully built and assembled so that they continuously envelop the entire space: a formal continuity that gives it a sense of unity and fluidity.

The choice of a single type of stone, pietra forte fiorentina, gives expression to a material that is extracted from deep quarries in Firenzuola. It gives the impression of a space that has been hollowed out: subtracted just as quarries are hollowed out to become works of architecture of unconscious beauty. Because of the size of each segment, which is 5 centimetres thick, one metre long, and is distanced 5 millimetres from its neighbours, the horizontal stripes of the stones give this imposing mass an effect of suspension that contrasts with the reflective specks from Mica flakes in the stone. They create a multitude of small points of light in the shadows and the solid mass.

  • ©Giovanni De Sandre

  • ©Giovanni De Sandre

  • ©Giovanni De Sandre

  • ©Giovanni De Sandre

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Details

©Giovanni De Sandre

In the project for the exhibition design, as with all of the In the project for the exhibition design, as with all of the architecture of the building, the elements were studied and designed in detail so that they became an integral part of the narration but also in order to generate an immersive experience of the objects on display through a mix of history, archaeology, design, architecture, and digital technologies. The exhibition itinerary is not rigidly defined, permitting visitors to freely move about, exploring beneath the three domes where the artifacts are displayed in large glass cases that symbolize the fragments of history, or go into the ellipsoidal space, or discover new narratives in some of the other rooms.

The glass for the cases was custom designed and produced to eliminate any reflection effects. The lighting design was also custom designed so that they are cleanly integrated with the exhibition elements.

  • The Etruscan tombs of Cerveteri were the cultural and formal reference for the museum project

  • Warrior; votive statue; 2nd archaic Etruscan period, late 6th-early 5th century BC; bronze, from the Enrico Cernuschi collection

  • Spiral urn; 7th century BC; light red decoration on a dark background; terracotta

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Inspiration

The bioclimatic project

Graphic Design by Zup Design

Graphic Design by Zup Design

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