1881 – 1939
Giuseppe Bertini, the first director of the museum, increased the number of artworks in the collection, without changing its characteristics. After his death in 1898, the architect Camillo Boito (1836-1914), director of the Brera Academy, took charge of the direction. He focused on the re-organization of the house-museum according to more innovative museographic criteria, with the aim of making the works of art more accessible. He also promoted a photographic campaign, which is precious historical evidence of the museographic taste of the time.
In 1939, during the Second World War, the museum was closed and all the artworks that could be moved were transported to safer places.
1943: THE AIR RAIDS
In August 1943, air raids destroyed all the main museums in Milan in one night. Also the Poldi Pezzoli palace and its decorations were severely damaged. The bombings destroyed the ceilings, the windows collapsed, and with them the stuccowork, the frescoes and the wooden decorations. These elements, which contributed to create the unique atmosphere of the Poldi Pezzoli house-museum, were unfortunately lost forever.
1943 – 1951 THE RECONSTRUCTION
After the war the reconstruction of the Museum started, with the aim of rebuilding it “where it was and as it was.” Thanks to Fernanda Wittgens and Ferdinando Reggiori, an effort was made to save the parts that had been less damaged, such as the Antique Staircase and the Dante Study. In order to recreate the original home-like atmosphere of the interiors, the decorations lost in the bombing were evoked by new, lighter ones. The museum was reopened on December 3rd, 1951.
1951 – TODAY
Thanks to generous donations (over a thousand objects in the last fifty years), the Poldi Pezzoli Museum is now one of the most refined house-museums in Europe. In the unique atmosphere of its refurbished rooms, paintings masterpieces are on show next to outstanding furnishings and decorative arts. Some rooms have been updated, such as the Armoury, the Jewellery Room and the Clock Rooms. New spaces have been added in 2017 to host recent donations. The museum, which its founder intended “for public use and benefit”, continues to fulfil its original purpose.