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History

The story of the Museo Teatrale alla Scala started in 1911, when Duke Uberto Visconti di Modrone, Professor Lodovico Pagliaghi, the composer and librettist Arrigo Boito, the correspondent of Il Secolo Mr Borsa, Senator Mangili, Count Leopoldo Pullè and Ettore Modigliani, director of the Pinacoteca di Brera gathered around a table of the Teatro alla Scala.

Who were these men? They were the most prominent people if Milan in those years. Most of them were exponents of the rich cultural community of the city and were connected to the Teatro alla Scala by their love and passion. The decision to be taken around that table concerned the purchase of the theatre collection belonging to the antique dealer Giulio Sambon that was going to be put up for auction in Paris on the very first days of May of the same year. Those antiques could have been the starting point of a huge theatre collection whose foundation had been sought for a very long time by the Milanese intellectual community close to La Scala, since the very first years of the century.

But the auction of the precious collection was forthcoming: how was it possible to find the necessary funds in one week only? With the help of the government and 50 citizens, who subscribed 5,000 liras of that time each, after a series of incredible adventures to wring the collection out of the American multimillionaire J.P. Morgan, the dream came true and the collection was then given to the city of Milan.

The Museum was officially inaugurated on 8 March 1913 with a solemn ceremony in the former Casino Ricordi connected to the Teatro alla Scala. Over the years numerous donations and purchases added to the Sambon collection, which is today one of the richest and most envied collections in the world. The most important deposits are in the "Casa di riposo per musicisti" (retirement-home for musicians) founded by Giuseppe Verdi, as well as in public places. The Museum also includes the Library, founded with its present structure with the 40,000 volumes given in 1952 by Renato Simoni, author and critic of the Corriere della Sera who wanted it to be dedicated to his mother Livia, and which is continuously enriched and updated.

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Teatro alla Scala