Since 1928, the Museum has been located in Palazzo Affaitati, ancient residence of a family who had important European trade connections. The remarkable 16th century architecture was integrated by major contributions in the 18th century – the monumental grand staircase (see picture below) and frescoed halls – and by an effective extension in the 19th century, when the building was used as a hospital.
This same building hosts the State Library, linked to the City Library.
The Museum was founded under the testamentary provisions of Marchese Sigismondo Ala Ponzone who wanted that his impressive and refined art and naturalistic collections were displayed and accessed by the public. The original core of Ala Ponzone collections gave rise, between 1877 and 1888, to this Museum, which, in time, has been enlarged through further donations and acquisitions. All fitting and technological modernization works carried out in the last few years have defined the shape of the Picture Gallery and of the “Raccolte artistiche” (Art Collections) - mainly Italian made ceramics, decorative items, wooden reliefs, whose arrangement mirrors the “cabinets of wonder” of ancient collecting.
In its chronological development, the itinerary of the Picture Gallery highlights the original contributions of the art school of Cremona, through figures who worked between Humanism and Renaissance, such as Bonifacio Bembo, Boccaccio Boccaccino, Altobello Melone, Bernardino Gatti and exponents of the Campi family (Giulio, Antonio, Bernardino, Vincenzo) during the blooming 16th century. Special emphasis is laid in the hall hosting the great 17th century paintings coming from the church of Saint Dominic, demolished in 1869-70. Central focus of the exhibition itinerary is “Saint Francis in meditation” by Caravaggio, side by side with a work by Bartolomeo Manfredi, one of his followers.
The itinerary through art culture continues in the 17th century with examples of the pictorial greatness of Genovesino, with contributions of the Tuscan, Emilian and Lombard school. The power of the 19th century portrait is evident in the works by Giovanni Carnovali, called Piccio (1804-1873), to whom an important exhibition was dedicated in 2007. The 20th century and contemporary art concludes the chronological sequence of the Museum with local works and artists, but not only.
The Hall of Drawings and Prints holds a wide and fine collection, that can be visited upon request, and that gradually increases with a watchful glance to contemporaneity.
Week days 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.
Sundays and public holidays 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.
Closed on Monday, New Year’s Day, May 1st, Christmas Day and on public holidays that fall on Mondays, except Easter Monday
Next opening of the collection of stringed instruments "Le corde artististiche", thanks to the donation of Carlo Alberto Carutti (december 2013)