The Pinacoteca was founded in 1618 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, who wanted to assure to anyone who had artistry or intellectual abilities, a free cultural education. Borromeo donated his collection of paintings, statues and drawings to the Ambrosian Library, which he founded in 1607. In the following years a painting and sculpture academy was built next to it.
The Pinacoteca is divided into 24 rooms where you can admire masterpieces such as Canestra di Frutta by Caravaggio, il Musico by Leonardo da Vinci, l’Adorazione dei Magi by Raffaello, Madonna del Padiglione by Botticelli and the marvellous Vasi di fiori by Jan Brueghel, Renaissance artworks, important collections of 17th to 20th century pieces made by artists of Lombardia. Some rooms of the Pimacoteca exhibit bizarre objects such as a lock of Lucrezia Borgia’s hair that inspired Gabriele D’Annunzio and Lord Byron, the gloves Napoleon wore at Waterloo, armillary spheres from the Settala collection and the astrolabes.