Antique Furniture & Wooden Sculpture Museum, Sforza Castle

The Antique Furnishings & Wooden Sculpture Museum of Milan is located on the first floor of the Sforza Castle ducal courtyard and it is part of the Sforza Castle’s Civic Museum complex.

The itinerary is chronologically arranged from the 14th century to the modern times with a particular attention for the Italian and lombardic furniture history. One of the most important artifacts exposed in the museum is the Chamber of Griselda: a wooden room reconstructed with fifteenth century detached frescoes to create a scale replica of how it looked in its original location in the Roccabianca Castle near Parma.

The Italian 20th century furniture and the italian design are well represented by furniture signed Alberto Issel, Carlo Bugatti and Ettore Sottsass, while the 18th-century Italian school of cabinetmakers are well represented by several cabinets signed Giuseppe Maggiolini. Are also exposed religious furnishing from 16th–18th century and furniture of the noble families of Milan.

Several wooden sculptures and various decorative items, such pottery or tableware including a tea set designed by Gio Ponti, are also displayed in the museum.

History and description
The Museum is part of the Museum of Decorative Arts which exhibits the Civic collections of applied art belonging to the Municipality of Milan. It was inaugurated as Municipal Artistic Museum on 10 May 1900 at the end of the restoration of the castle. The collection was formed through donations, testamentary bequests and purchases, includingː

the Mora collection (1908), a family of cabinetmakers of Bergamo origin
the inheritance of the Durini family,
the purchase of Palazzo Sormani Andreani (1930), with all its furnishings,
the legacy of the Boschi Di Stefano home furnishings
the furnishing of the Savoy residences, the Royal Palace and the royal villas of Milan and Monza

Renaissance collections
Among the very rare testimonies of original furnishings from the Sforza era, they are exposedː

The so-called Chalice of Ludovico il Moro, a crystal glass goblet from Murano, bearing the Sforza heraldic insignia surmounted by the ducal crown
the iron and gold damask Cassette, where the Duke Ludovico kept his will
the Cassone of the three dukes, a fifteenth-century chest of Bottega lombarda painted with the three dukes Sforza on horseback, Galeazzo Maria, Gian Galeazzo and Ludovico il Moro accompanied by squires, probably made for the marriage of Chiara Sforza, daughter of Galeazzo Maria, and Fregosino, son of the doge of Genoa Paolo Fregoso.

Among the other works of the Renaissance period stand out

the Coretto of Torchiara, a structure that was located in a corner of the chapel of San Nicomede in the Castle of Torrechiara (Parma) and allowed the lords of the castle to attend sacred functions separated from the rest of the faithful. It is decorated with panels carved with late Gothic motifs, alternated with the emblems and emblems of the condottiere Pier Maria Rossi.
the Chamber of Griselda characterized by late medieval decorations on the last novel by Decameron and illustrating the history of the Marquis of Saluzzo and his marriage to Griselda. The room has been rebuilt with fifteenth-century frescoes detached from the castle of Roccabianca (in the Parma area ) and re-proposed inside a museum hall while still maintaining the original proportions.
Sculptures belonging to a Compiano su Cristo morto, of the famous Renaissance carver Giovanni Angelo del Maino

Collections era Mannerist and Baroque
Tapestries of the Liberal Arts, series of tapestries produced by the manufacture of Bruges, on cartoons by Cornelius Schut, pupil of Rubens, representing the allegorical representations. Of the original series of nine tapestries, from Palazzo Sormani, six are preserved.
Diabolic automaton, coming from the Wunderkammer of the Settala Museum, collection of over three thousand artistic, naturalistic and scientific objects collected by the Milanese scholar Manfredo Settala, designer of the automaton. The automaton, operated by a crank, was able to move the head, eyes and ears.
Genoese Stipo, which belonged to Bishop Ulpiano Volpi, which reproduces a scale model of Palazzo Tursi in Genoa.
Stipo Passalacqua, (Milan workshop, 1613) “artificiosissimo desk” owned by Canon Como Quintilius Passalacqua, the elaborate architectural decoration moralistic background, with paintings on copper of the famous Milanese painter Morazzone biblical subjects, and ivory figurines Guillaume Berthelot with the allegories of the five senses.
Statue of Bacchus with a corkscrew function, attributed to the Genoese sculptor Filippo Parodi

Nineteenth and Twentieth century
The museum has the largest existing collection of works by the famous cabinetmaker Giuseppe Maggiolini, who acquired his fame at the Milanese court of the archduke Ferdinand of Este-Este then spread to all European courts in the early nineteenth century. The collection ranges from a chest of drawers, an early work, still animated by rococo volutes, coffered, tables and commode with pure neoclassical lines, including a chest of drawers inlaid with rosewood and marble, bearing an allegorical figure by court painter Andrea Appiani.

Among the works of the so-called historicist or eclectic taste, which was very widespread in Milan from the mid-nineteenth century, the dining room designed by the famous sculptor Ludovico Pogliaghi for the family of Benigno Crespi stands out.

The section on twentieth-century furniture documents the evolution of style, from the eclecticism of Carlo Bugatti, to the Liberty creations of Alberto Issel, Carlo Zen, Eugenio Quarti, up to Art Deco and the ” Novecento Style ” by Mario Sironi and Mario Quarters. The recent acquisitions of the second half of the twentieth century, signed by Carlo Mollino, Ettore Sottsass and Alessandro Mendini, close the exhibition.. There are also exhibited a series of wooden sculptures and various decorative art objects such as ceramics or tableware including, for example, a tea service designed by Giò Ponti.

Sforzesco Castle
The Sforzesco Castle is a fortification that rises in Milan just outside the historic center of the city.

It was built in the fifteenth century by Francesco Sforza, who had recently become Duke of Milan, on the remains of a previous medieval fortification from the 14th century known as Castello di Porta Giovia (or Zobia ). In the same area where the Castle of Porta Giovia stood, in Roman times, stood the homonymous Castrum Portae Jovis, one of the four defensive castles of Roman Milan.

Greatly transformed and modified over the centuries, the Sforzesco Castle was, between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, one of the main military citadels of Europe; restored in a historicist style by Luca Beltrami between 1890 and 1905, it is now home to cultural institutions and important museums. It is one of the largest castles in Europe and one of the main symbols of Milan and its history.

An integral part of the Museo di Arti Decorative (Museum of Decorative Arts), the Museo dei Mobili e delle Sculture Lignee (Museum of Furniture and Wooden Sculptures), was formed thanks to donations, bequests, and the purchase, in 1908, of the Mora collection. The Mora were a family of cabinet-makers from Bergamo, who for a period of time owned a famous shop in Via Solferino, in Milan. During the 20th century the core of the collection expanded thanks to the legacies of families such as the Durini, the Andreani, the Boschi, but especially thanks to the arrival of furnishings from the Savoy residences, including Palazzo Reale and the Villas in Monza and Milan, which were left to the state and earmarked for the civic collections.

The furniture collection, mounted according to chronological criteria that favoured categorisation by studio BBPR (Banfi, Belgiojoso, Peressutti, Rogers) in the 1960s, was reopened to the public with a new layout in 1981. In this particular arrangement attention was focused on the furniture of the Renaissance (much of which was restored in the 19th century) or in Renaissance style. In 2004 the section was completely rearranged under the direction of Claudio Salsi and following designs by architects Perry King and Santiago Miranda. At this time the chronological boundary was expanded to include contemporary design, so as create a more modern museum for a city such as Milan, known as the capital of design and a region such as Lombardy, which has been at the forefront of furniture production for the past two hundred years.