Publication Date

April 2016


Joseph Siry


Art History


English (United States)


In recent years, Italy has relied on private sponsors, particularly those in the fashion industry, to preserve its cultural heritage. In 2015, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan participated in this tradition when Prada, Versace, Feltrinelli, and Alessandro Rosso offered to sponsor its restoration in preparation of the world’s fair that was held that same year. This thesis contends that a better explanation of the Galleria’s current cultural meaning and the significance of its most recent renovation in 2015, might be achieved through an understanding of the cultural contributions of the Milanese exhibition tradition. In my first chapter, I would like present the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II as a product of the Milanese exposition that took place in 2015. This will be done through a comparison of Turinese and Milanese exhibition practices in order to establish the origins and distinctive qualities of Milanese modernity. This historical background will then allow for a more meaningful analysis of the planning of the 2015 Expo. This chapter will conclude with an evaluation of the event and how it drew upon and echoed the values and history of the Galleria. In my second chapter, I will study the Galleria’s restoration process as a reflection of Milanese modernity, that is of Milanese craft. This chapter will begin with a discussion of art conservation practices in Italy and their development over time. This will be followed by a second discussion concerning the impact of private sponsorship on restoration and will argue that the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is an example of how the two forces, conservation and sponsorship, can be successfully combined. This combination of the Galleria’s restoration methods and supporting sponsorship will thus be presented as the reasons for the project’s success. In my third and final chapter, I will discuss the marketing strategy that accompanied the restoration and the ways in which the curation of the space participated in the revival of this Milanese civic identity. This will be achieved through an examination of the different levels of patronage that the Galleria attracts, national, municipal, and local, and the site’s ability to curate to each. This thesis ultimately proves that the Galleria’s restoration successfully revived the arcade’s status as a historical monument to Milanese civic identity and, in so doing, promoted a new Milanese tradition concerning for fashion and art conservation.



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