The Museo del Novecento (Museum of the Twentieth Century) extends over the three levels of the first tower of the Arengario Palace and two rooms on the second floor of the Royal Palace of Milan. The museum has a conference room and a teaching laboratory on the underground floor, while the visitor services and the temporary exhibition hall are located on the ground floor. Through a spiral ramp, the first floor can be reached, where visitors can begin the exhibition path that originally opened with “The Fourth Estate” and then continued with “Avant-Garde” and “Futurism”. The second floor exhibits “The Twentieth Century”, “Metaphysics”, “Rationalism”, and “Abstraction” before continuing to the third floor showcasing “Informal Art”, “Spatialism”, and the artists of “Azimuth”. The itinerary continues via a suspended walkway that connects the museum to the Royal Palace and leads to the halls of “Kinetic Art” and “Programmed Art”. It then continues with the environments of the “T Group”, “Italian Pop Art”, and “Analytical Painting”, and the path concludes with a room dedicated to “Arte Povera”.
The Arengario Palace was built between 1936 and 1956 according to the project of the architects Portaluppi, Muzio, Galmanini, Magistretti, and Griffini, and decorated on the facade with bas-reliefs by Arturo Martini. It takes its name from “arengario”, which is synonymous with “broletto”, a term used to define the municipal seat of a city in ancient times. Not far from where the modern Palazzo dell’Arengario stands was, in fact, located the “Broletto Vecchio”, a building later renovated and transformed into the Royal Palace.
Winner of the 1937 competition, the project for the Arengario concluded the process of urban renewal in the center of Milan, which was initiated by the architect Giuseppe Mengoni, who had given a monumental character to the area around the Duomo. The Arengario was built after the demolition of the so-called “Manica Lunga,” which were two wings of the Royal Palace protruding towards Piazza del Duomo, with the completion of the work that took place with the intervention of the new Piazza Diaz.
After a period of abandonment following the war, in the 1950s it was renovated and used as municipal and provincial offices.
At the beginning of 2009, the construction site began to transform the Arengario into the new headquarters of the Museum of the Twentieth Century according to the design of the architects Italo Rota and Fabio Fornasari. Initially, the inauguration was supposed to be in December 2009, precisely on the centenary of the publication the Manifesto of Futurism. Futurism, the artistic movement that launched the avant-garde movements in Italy, has great importance within the museum exhibition through the presence of many works related to the Marinetti and Boccioni movements, composing the most complete collection of that artistic movement.
The transformations for the opening of the museum saw the creation of a long promenade among the exhibited works, many of which were donated by individuals during the Twentieth Century, thus creating a particular bond with the city that goes beyond just being located in Piazza Duomo. This bond is emphasized by the 140-meter long ramp connecting the base of the subway line to the inside of the tower, culminating on the terrace overlooking Piazza Duomo since the middle of the Twentieth Century.