Galleria d’Arte Moderna and PAC
Sitting side-by-side opposite the lush Giardini Pubblici, the city’s second largest park, these two galleries in Milan feature romantic-era art in the Galleria and contemporary art in the pavilion (Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea). The Galleria d’Arte Moderna is housed in the historic neoclassical Villa Reale, built in 1790 by Viennese architect Leopoldo Pollack (Napoleon once lived here; now it hosts smart wedding receptions). Behind it are little known English gardens complete with waterfall and ornamental pond. Spread over three floors and 15 rooms is mostly 18th-19th-century art by European masters, including Canova and Appiani, hence its nickname the Museo dell’Ottocento. More modern works once exhibited in here have been shifted over to the Museo della Novecento (20th-century museum), which opens its doors in Piazza Duomo in 2010. Next door is PAC, a contemporary satellite originally built in the 1950s but bombed by Sicilian mafia in 1993 and completely rebuilt in 1998. An ugly mustard building from the outside and a clean white minimalist space inside, it exhibits starkly curated conceptual art.