Castello Sforzesco

I am currently in Berlin, and will post about the jewellery galleries here that I’ve visited soon, but I’m going back in time to last weekend where we spent a glorious sunny day wandering around the city, and into Castello Sforesco. We headed there after seeing a sign in the underground about una mostra (a show) on the architectural drawings of Michelangelo Buonarotti. I couldn’t resist that, so we headed off to check it out.

Turns out that the permanent exhibition of the architecture and artifacts of the castle is also pretty amazing. They have managed to unearth some of the original frescoes, including some that are reputed to be by the hand of a relatively unknown bloke, Leonardo.

I really loved the exhibition design, possibly even more so because it was not what I am used to in the display of historical  artifacts. The placement was affecting – both in terms of their position in the layout of the room as well as the proportions and style of the plinths, and their manufacture. Natural light was used well, and pieces such as busts were mounted so you could see all around them, and look them in the eye.

The armour (which I thought I’d already seen enough of in Venice at the Doge’s Palace) was also carefully considered. In the lean of the spears you could almost feel their heft. The armour, held aloft as if its owner had just slipped out of it, was positioned right next to a cluster of spears, which gave you a better idea of the size of person who would have been hauling one of these monsters about.

Overall, the use of such thick timber in the installation added its gravitas to that of the works on display. It was as if the weight of history within the walls of the castle was literal, and necessitated both modern skill and brawn to carry it with any sort of conviction.

And yes, Michelangelo’s drawings were pretty impressive too. By then end of that show I got a feeling, from the many abandoned and unfinished projects they had on display, that his full potential in this arena was never materialised. It felt a little like the curators were trying very hard to make his architectural legacy more than it actually is. I guess they could be forgiven this, given he was such a multi-talented bloke. Though that impression could also be down to some interesting and flowery translations of the curatorial texts that lined the walls. In the end I gave up reading and let the drawings do the talking. Probably how it should be.


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