In 1911 in Paris the antiquarian Sambon put up for auction a lot of highly valuable antiques relating to music and the theatre. In America the magnate John Pierpont Morgan sought to add them to his own collection so as to create a theatre museum at the Metropolitan Opera of New York; in Italy an enterprising group was formed, backed by the Government and Victor Emmanuel III.
The leading members of the Milanese bourgeoisie and the musical world (the duke Uberto Visconti di Modrone president of the Teatro alla Scala, Giacomo Puccini, Umberto Giordano, Arrigo Boito, Ettore Modigliani, the tenor Enrico Caruso, the publishers Ricordi and Sonzogno), entered the fray and finally won.
This first lot marked the birth of the La Scala Theatre Museum that first opened in 1913, one hundred three years ago. Over time the collection, preserved in the Museum, was enriched, and its value today is inestimable.
The exhibition space is a modern institution receiving every year 250 000 visitors, and also a welcoming home for the documents, testimonies, objects, paintings and sculptures which, reunited, rekindle the ephemeral delights of the theatre. Safeguarded for a century, the old mementos come back to life, enchanting and intriguing us.
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.