University museum network

From science to technology, from medicine to humanities, the University museum network shows the evolution of a multidisciplinary knowledge that is open to the most diverse cultural interests of scholars and enthusiasts. 

Inherited from the ancient institutes that gave rise to the university and developed over almost a century, the University collections have a special historical and documentary value.

The University of Milan has published over time a series of volumes presented in a refined graphic layout, which illustrate its historical, cultural and scientific heritage.

Museum collections

The Labanof Laboratory of Anthropology and Forensic Odontology reconstructs and analyses skeletal remains, using the tools of anthropology, forensic medicine, pathology, archaeology, natural sciences and biology.

It works on unclaimed human remains, both recent and historical, from archaeological excavations, cemeteries and crime-related contexts.

Rooted in the respect for human dignity, this is an important scientific and educational work on materials that are valuable sources of information, as well as tools for the defence of human rights, the proper application of justice and the rediscovery of our history.

The Laboratory houses the largest collection of identified modern skeletal remains in the world: the Labanof Anthropology Collection (CAL), including over 2,000 modern and over 300 ancient skeletons.

Hosted by the Forensic Medicine section of the Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health of the University of Milan, the CAL has been recognized as a unique Museum Collection by the Lombardy Region.


Created in 1934 thanks to Achille Vogliano and to the excavations of the ruins of Tebtynis and Medînet Mâdi, in Egypt, the Collection grew further in the mid-1960s, with the reopening of the Medînet Mâdi site.

In 1992, it acquired the precious roll dating from the 3rd century BC that jump-started the rediscovery of Posidippo from Pella, one of the most significant poets of the early Hellenistic period.

The Collection is one of the few in the world that have all the papyrus and Greek and Latin ostracon editions printed so far.

It includes almost 1,400 papyri in Greek, approximately one hundred in Hieratic and Demotic, a few dozen in Coptic and around fifty in Arabic, which can be dated between the 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD, as well as 200 Greek, Demotic and Coptic ostraca, about twenty wooden and wax tablets, a sheaf of Arabic sheets and a very rare written-in bone.

The collection was created to preserve explorer and geologist Ardito Desio's finds from his non-European expeditions since the 1950s. It has been constantly expanding with the finds from scientific research activities in Italy and abroad, and is today a landmark collection for specialists. 

The most significant collections include thousands of micro-palaeontological specimens, Triassic and Jurassic ammonoids, Asian Permian Brachiopods, Italian Plio-Pleistocene molluscs.

Francesco Garnier-Valletti was one of the last model makers of the 19th century to produce replicas of flowers and fruits for scientific and documentary purposes: thousands of items perfectly similar to the originals not only in form and colour, but also in weight. He named his work “Pomona artificiale” (“Artificial Pomona”).

His "secret" was a specially designed material which, when softened by heat, could be worked, smoothed, shaped and set, but once cooled, acquired the consistency and resistance of plaster, yet without its brittleness or weight.

The Garnier-Valletti collection is housed in the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and consists of 1,600 models of fruit and grape varieties.

The beautiful collection catalogue features annotations, over 12,000 drawings, and notes by Garnier-Valletti, which are kept at the Turin Academy of Agriculture, documenting the names, varieties, production seasons and organoleptic properties of the reproduced fruits.

The "Luigi Devoto" Occupational Clinic Collection

This mostly bibliographic collection bears witness to the creation of research and care institutions that still operate in the area today.

Library of the Department of Occupational Medicine
Via S. Barnaba, 8 - 20122 Milan
Tel. 02 50320106
Fax.  02 50320106

Medical equipment and materials

The collection includes mainly obstetric instruments and materials dating back to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.


Collection of wax models
Housed in the Dermatology Clinic of the Department of Health Sciences, it documents the development of pathology models for medical training, dating back to the late eighteenth century.

Dermatology Clinic
Via della Pace, 9 – 20122 Milan
Tel. 02 50320776
Fax. 02 50320779

The Alfieri Fund, merged into the APICE Centre, was acquired by the University in 1953.

It includes approximately 5,600 volumes, a thousand pamphlets and as many issues of periodicals once belonging to physician and bibliophile Emilio Alfieri (Milan, 1874-1949), who became the director of the obstetrics and gynaecology clinic of Milan in 1927 after Luigi Mangiagalli, founder and first rector of the University.

The Anatomical Museum of the Department of Veterinary Science preserves over 1,500 valuable specimens, representing mammals and domestic birds.

The myological statues and mummified specimens are particularly interesting.

The Museum also has a remarkable collection of historic surgical instruments and histological finds and specimens gathered since the mid-nineteenth century.

The Library and Archives contain the documents and records of five of the most important egyptologists of the 19th and 20th centuries:

  • Auguste Mariette, whose 135 letters from 1850-51 are accompanied by copies of hieroglyphic texts and related comments
  • Heinrich Brugsch
  • Victor Loret, whose archive contains manuscripts concerning the Saqqara digs and the Museum of Boulaq, as well as notes, drawings, maps and watercolours related to the Valley of the Kings and diaries of the excavations of the tombs of Thutmose III and Amenhotep II
  • Alexandre Varille, whose library comprises many valuable treasures, such as 16th-century volumes by Mercati and 18th-century volumes by Norden, as well as copious archives containing over 40,000 historic and modern photographs of Egyptian sites 
  • Elmar Edel, whose archive contains hundreds of pages of mostly philological notes, as well as drawings, photographs, facsimiles of inscriptions and approximately 300 letters.
    A further acquisition was made in 2007, when the American egyptologist William Kelly Simpson donated his letters to the University.

The materials in the archives, and particularly Victor Loret’s excavation journals, were the subject of a book containing many photographs, which was published by the University of Milan in 2004: La valle dei re riscoperta. I giornali di scavo di Victor Loret (1898-1899) e altri inediti. (The Valley of the Kings Rediscovered. Victor Loret's excavation journals (1898-1899) and other manuscripts).



Established in 2004, the Museum includes materials from collections dating back to the 1940s, thanks to Emanuele Grill, then director of the Institute of Mineralogy.

In 1937, he bought the collection of minerals and rocks belonging to the heirs of Eugenio Bazzi, which was known throughout the scientific community, and still is at the core of the Museum.

The Museum's portfolio expanded in the 1960s, with the set-up of a regional alpine collection and one of synthetic and natural hard stones – both rough and cut – in addition to the increase of rock samples, representing the main lithotypes in Italy and other areas of the world.

The acquisition of a collection of ornamental stones used in the construction field, and the set-up of a vast collection of mineral deposits from all over the world also date back to the early 1960s.

The collections

  • Mineralogy
    about 10,000 mineral specimens (1,400 exhibited)
  • Gemmology
    about 300 samples of natural and synthetic gems (250 exhibited)
  • Petrography
    about 30,000 rock samples (1,000 exhibited)
  • Mining geology
    about 3,000 mineral deposit samples (900 exhibited)

The showcases display educational materials such as the atomic structures of minerals and models of crystalline polyhedra, scientific instruments of historical interest, valuable antique books, period geological maps and teaching tables.

The collections have been recognized as Museum Collections by the Region of Lombardy for the importance of their scientific and cultural Heritage.

Founded in 1994, the Educational Museum of Zoology has a historical collection of:

  • about 200 zoology educational wall charts
  • one hundred entomological boxes of the early twentieth century
  • educational books and anatomical models

The Museum also preserves photographic and optical instruments, including the Siemens Elmiskop 101 transmission electron microscope.

Collection of historical materials inherited from the Royal Higher School of Agriculture. At the end of the nineteenth century, the School began organic studies in basic and applied entomology and launched the first courses in beekeeping, entomology and sericulture, a subject of great interest, at the time, as natural silk production was strong in the region.

In addition to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century volumes, treatises and monographs, the collections feature wall charts, papier-mâché models of silkworms, entomological boxes and insect collections, such as the Tirelli beetle collection and the Del Guercio aphid collection.

Botanical Gardens

The University museum network includes the three botanical gardens of Brera, Città Studi in Milan, and G. E. Ghirardi in Toscolano Maderno (BS).

These botanical gardens have become green oases and key areas for the local community by offering social, cultural, and scientific-dissemination activities throughout the year.

The botanical gardens of the University are like open-air living museums, which can thrill and surprise visitors in every season.

Exhibitions, archives and rare collections

Inaugurated in 2016 with Mikayel Ohanjanyan's first Milanese solo show, "La Statale Arte" confirms the University's vocation as an open place, an agora in the heart of Milan, where to discuss and explore contemporary issues.

In later solo shows, Nanda Vigo and Paolo Icaro created site-specific works for the splendid architectural spaces designed by Filarete in the mid-fifteenth century, a privileged place for dialogue between historical monumental art and interpretations of our present time.

The "La Statale Arte" project also includes the creation of a permanent gallery which today hosts the works left to the University by Ohanjanyan and Vigo, on display in the Crociera Hall on via Festa del Perdono, and the impressive work of Jannis Kounellis, almost 5-and-a-half-metres high that has joined other important twentieth-century artists already featured in the historic building of Ca' Granda – from Wildt to Fontana

The University of Milan boasts many collections, all located in different spaces – from the historic headquarters on via Festa del Perdono, to the various department offices.

To make them available to the public, the University is building a virtual path that highlights their beauty as well as their historical and scientific value.

Part of this heritage had already been displayed in a real exhibition – "Il tesoro della Statale", or the University's Treasure – in 2004, when the University celebrated the eightieth anniversary from its foundation. The exhibition catalogue was published by Skira under the title Il tesoro della Statale. Collezioni e identità di un grande Ateneo (The University's Treasure. The Collections and Identities of a Major University).

Simmetrie, giochi di specchi (Symmetries, mirror effects)

Hosted by the "F. Enriques" Department of Mathematics, this interactive exhibition allows you to experiment the mathematical theme of symmetry through the reconstruction of all the bi- and tri-dimensional groups generated by reflections.


The University is also part of Centro Matematita, supervised by the Interuniversity Research Centre for Communication and Informal Learning of Mathematics, which designs, makes and disseminates informative products (exhibitions, books, magazines, multimedia material) and studies their impact levels.