In addition to being one of Milan’s biggest public green spaces, Parco Sempione is also home to many museums. Most of the museums in the park are contained within the castle building complex, but there are two more elsewhere in the park that are worth checking out.
Sforza Castle Museums
The 15th-century Sforza Castle sits at one end of Parco Sempione, and today contains several different museums. These are known, collectively, as the Civic Museums. The castle is one of the top things to see in Milan, so while you’re there here are the museums you can visit.
Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco
The Pinacoteca gallery inside the Castello Sforzesco has more than 230 pieces of art on display (with over 1,500 total pieces in storage), including paintings by Titian, Canaletto, Mantegna, Tintoretto, and many more. There are also portraits of the Sforza family among the collection. The Pinacoteca is on the first floor of the castle, and there is an admission fee. Visit the Pinacoteca di Brera after this one and you’ve seen the best painting galleries in Milan.
Museum of Ancient Art
On the castle’s ground floor is the Museum of Ancient Art, which includes sculptural works from before the Middle Ages through the Renaissance. There are also tapestries on display, an armory, and Michelangelo’s final sculptural work, the Rondanini Pieta.
Museum of Musical Instruments
The museum dedicated to musical instruments is on the first and second floors of the castle, and showcases more than 700 instruments dating from the 15th through the 20th centuries. Stringed instruments from Cremona, a city in the Lombardy region known for producing the most sought-after violins in the world, feature prominently.
Prehistoric Section of the Archaeological Museum
The main Archaeological Museum in Milan is located elsewhere, but two of the museum’s sections are inside the Sforza Castle. The prehistoric section is in the basement level of the castle, and includes artifacts from the Neolithic Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.
Egyptian Section of the Archaeological Museum
The other Archaeological Museum section in the castle is the Egyptian section, housed in the basement level of the castle. Exhibits include mummies, ancient statues, and even some pieces of an Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Collection of Applied Arts
On the first and second floors of the castle, the Applied Arts Collection includes ceramics and other pottery, glass pieces, jewelry, enamelware, and ivory. Some of the ivories date from the fourth century. There is also a series of tapestries, each representing a different month on the calendar.
Antique Furniture Museum
The museum of antique furniture and wooden sculpture is on the first floor of the castle. Exhibits include primarily Italian furniture from the 14th through the 20th centuries, as well as some decorative wooden art pieces. There is an admission fee for this museum.
Triennale di Milano
Milan’s excellent design museum is the Triennale di Milano, located on one side of the Parco Sempione. The spaces feature exhibits on design, architecture and art — but this isn’t a typical museum. What’s on display changes fairly frequently, so even if you’ve been there before it’s the kind of place that continues to entertain on repeat visits. There is a permanent collection in part of the building, showcasing Italian design. There is an admission fee to get in. Don’t miss the lovely cafe on the ground floor of the museum, with free WiFi and art-piece chairs.
Opposite the Triennale is Milan’s petite Civic Aquarium. The Art Nouveau building that houses it was constructed for the 1906 World Expo held in the city, and it’s the only World Expo building left standing in Milan. The aquarium is small, but its tanks do contain marine life from around the world. There’s a particular focus on fish and water plants from Italy (both the seas surrounding the country and its inland bodies of fresh water), and there’s also an impressive marine biology library.