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The donation of two new House Museums and two Collections in Milan to FAI

19 December 2023

Milan has been enriched with two new House Museums and two new Collections that were recently donated to FAI: Casa Crespi and Collezione Bagutta and Casa Livio and Collezione Grandi tell family stories and an unprecedented cross-section of Milanese society and culture.

The Foundation will open Casa Crespi and Bagutta Collection and Casa Livio and Grandi Collection to the public in 2026, proposing them as places not only to learn about, but also to experience.

Two important new donations, joining Villa Necchi Campiglio, tell another cross-section of typically Milanese society and culture.

The donations are accompanied by an endowment that will enable FAI to carry out the first batches of restoration work and make the future management of the properties sustainable.

MILAN’S HOUSE MUSEUMS BECOME SIX

Casa Crespi and Collezione Bagutta and Casa Livio and Collezione Grandi will be added to FAI’s already rich cultural offering in Milan. The special feature of Casa Crespi and Casa Livio – which together with Villa Necchi will form part of the circuit of six House Museums in Milan – is that they will be House Museums with a specific vocation. Animating them, in fact, will be two themes closely linked to their history but also to the initiatives they will host: education in understanding and listening to music and the practice of drawing.

NEW MILANESE CULTURAL SPACES

The opening of these two houses in Milan represents a step forward in FAI’s educational mission and its cultural policy, which thanks to them is opening up to an ever broader range of cultural content, addressing areas such as music and drawing, whose basic knowledge and practice, neglected today, should once again contribute to the general culture of individuals and society.

The announcement was made on November 10th, 2023, at Casa Crespi, during a meeting attended by: Marco Magnifico, FAI President; Francesco Crespi, nephew of the donors of Casa Crespi; Franco Anelli, Rector of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore; Gianfelice Rocca and Martina Fiocchi Rocca, donors of the Bagutta Collection; Giovanni Agosti, University of Milan; Emanuela Carpani, Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the Metropolitan City of Milan; Giuseppe Sala, Mayor of Milan.

“The importance of House Museums is becoming increasingly significant for cities: they reveal their deepest souls. In addition to the great historical buildings, they represent an increasingly important destination for understanding them,” said FAI President Marco Magnifico. “In this sense, the new donations of Casa Crespi and Casa Livio, together with Villa Necchi, tell of a time, a society and a culture that speak of Milan. Their private stories tell the identity of the city and its roots. They reveal urban contexts that are still little known and that, thanks to their presence, are part of the city’s touristic enhancement”.

“With the forthcoming opening of Casa Crespi and Casa Livio, the circuit of Milan’s House Museums is enriched by two spaces of great historical and cultural value,” commented Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala. “Thanks to FAI’s management and the experiences related to music and drawing that will be proposed, these places will contribute to increasing the attractiveness of our city. Through the Bagutta and Grandi Collections housed here, new light will also be shed on the patronage of Milan’s entrepreneurial families and their precious legacies“.

CASA CRESPI AND BAGUTTA COLLECTION

Casa Crespi, a bourgeois residence from the 1930s, is located between Via Verga and Via Giovio, next to the Church of San Francesco al Fopponino, designed by Gio Ponti, with an astonishing painting cycle by Francesco Tabusso inside, including a majestic altarpiece.

Casa Crespi was designed for the entrepreneur Fausto Crespi, owner of a company of excellence in the production of iron furniture for offices, ships and hospitals, who came to live there in 1931 with his wife and five children. The house recounts the history and everyday life of a highly successful entrepreneurial bourgeoisie, but with an austere, typically Milanese character: shy and cultured, dedicated to work and study. In about ninety years, almost nothing has changed in Casa Crespi: objects, floors, furniture and decorations have remained unchanged, a perfectly preserved whole, making it a rare bourgeois context that is original in every detail.

 The only change is due to the great passion of Alberto Crespi (1923-2022), one of his sons and the person responsible for the donation to FAI together with his brother Giampaolo, in agreement with his grandchildren Francesco and Monica. Alberto Crespi was one of Italy’s greatest jurists, an academic and lawyer of people who have marked the country’s history, and surprisingly also a musician and musicologist, a graduate of the Milan Conservatory and a passionate performer on the organ of German Baroque music, starting with the much-loved Bach.

Alberto Crespi’s other great passion was art: in 2001, he donated a collection of 41 gold-backed paintings from the 14th-16th centuries to the Diocesan Museum in Milan; of his considerable art collection, only a few sculptures and paintings from 17th-century Rome remain in the house, along with a very rich library dedicated to law, art and music.

In honour of Alberto Crespi’s cultural interests, FAI has decided to dedicate Casa Crespi to the theme of understanding and listening to music, making it a place to offer the tools for appreciating and understanding classical music, with spaces dedicated to courses, workshops, meetings and events. According to the principle of re-functionalisation and modernisation with which FAI enhances the value of its properties, respecting their nature and projecting them in dialogue with the contemporary world and relating to other city institutions dedicated to music.

But that’s not all: Casa Crespi will house on the first floor, permanently, the entire Bagutta Collection, donated by Gianfelice Rocca and Martina Fiocchi Rocca. The collection consists of the drawings that decorated the historic trattoria Bagutta, in Via Bagutta in Milan, closed in 2016. Since 1926, the trattoria was home to the eponymous literary prize, the first Italian literary prize established on the initiative of Riccardo Bacchelli and a circle of intellectual patrons, including writers, journalists and artists. The most conspicuous body of drawings consists of the so-called ‘lists’ signed by the artist Mario Vellani Marchi: sheets designed for the evenings of honour held in the trattoria, with a caricature of the guest of honour and the signatures of the participants, among whom were prominent figures in the culture and customs of mid-twentieth-century Italy, such as Filippo de Pisis, Giorgio de Chirico, Eugenio Montale, Carlo Levi, Mario Soldati and Indro Montanelli, as well as Walter Chiari and Fausto Coppi.

LIVIO HOUSE AND LARGE COLLECTION

Casa Livio was acquired by Riccardo Livio, a textile industrialist, shortly before the 1920s and was bequeathed to the Grandi family in 2011. Today, thanks to the three Grandi siblings – Filippo, Laura and Edoardo – they donate it to FAI together with the Collection. It is located in Via degli Olivetani, between San Vittore and the Science and Technology Museum.

The house is part of a complex consisting of four original buildings designed and juxtaposed with eclectic taste: late 19th-century-Tudor and two of neo-15th-century flavour, set in a unique romantic garden.

The Grandi family distinguished itself for its activity as antiquarians and collectors, which dates back to 1810, when the Grandi company was founded in Corso Venezia: a shop selling works of art, especially graphics, and antiques, which imposed itself on the Milanese scene thanks to famous customers and a network of relations with personalities and cultural institutions, even abroad, and influenced the taste of the Milanese bourgeoisie between the end of the 19th century and the early post-war period. In a symbolic and evocative transition between drawing and design, which so characterised Milanese culture, the Grandi family carved out a role for itself thanks to the last owners of the house: Maria Matilde Grandi, known as Dilde, an architect, founded Adrasteia in the late 1950s with Pier Fausto Bagatti Valsecchi, a company and an established brand in the production of furniture and household objects. The company collaborated with designers and architects including Antonio Grandi himself, Virginia and Antonio Scoccimarro and Annig Sarian.

The ground floor of Casa Livio will be dedicated to the history of the Grandi family, also retraced in an exclusive video story. The ground floor, which will retain the house’s original furnishings, was the first Grandi residence from 1953, after the marriage between Maria Matilde – Riccardo Livio’s granddaughter – and Antonio Grandi.

A second video story will be devoted to the history and consistency of the Collection, which will be stored on the first floor, also available to be consulted and studied on site.

The first floor of the house will house a veritable museum, in which works from the Collection will be exhibited in rotation, according to themed itineraries and temporary exhibitions. It will also be the site of workshops to educate people in the practice of drawing as a discipline and activity to be recovered and disseminated because it is able to encourage the careful observation of works, that is, to educate people in the spirit of observation that enables them to know and appreciate art.

GETTING TO KNOW THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE TWO HOUSE MUSEUMS

The new donations also mark the start of an innovative collaboration between FAI and the ACPV ARCHITECTS Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel studio: the internationally recognised architecture firm has generously offered FAI its availability to work together to develop a cutting-edge working methodology for the restoration and conservation of the historical heritage, based on digital design tools using BIM (Building Information Modelling).

Capitalizing on the many years of experience of FAI on restoration and ACPV ARCHITECTS on digital design, work is underway on the creation of the Heritage Digital Twin, the digital twin that provides in-depth knowledge of the architecture of Casa Crespi and Casa Livio in all its details and at the same time integrates qualitative information with the geometric representation in 3D.

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