Founded in 1609 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, this 400-year-old project began life as one of the first ever public libraries. The world-class paintings on display, the palazzo setting and the scores of untitled statues dotted around reinforce the impression that Milan has more fine art in one city than most other countries have in their national collections.
Borromeo's private art collection of 172 paintings (now in rooms one, four, five, six and seven) were put on display in 1618. There's Titian's Adoration of the Magi and a portrait of a man in armour in room one; Jacopo Bassano's Rest on the Flight from Egypt, Raphael's cartoon for The School of Athens and Caravaggio's Basket of Fruit in rooms five and six; and works by Flemish masters, including Jan Brueghel and Paul Bril, in room seven.
Renaissance works from outside the Cardinal's original donation are in rooms two and three, including Sandro Botticelli's Madonna del Padiglione and Leonardo da Vinci's Musician. The rest of the Pinacoteca contains later works. A lachrymose Penitent Magdalene by Guido Reni - darling of the Victorians - is in room 13 on the upper floor. There are two works by Giandomenico Tiepolo in room 17. The De Pecis' donation of 19th-century works, including a self-portrait by sculptor Antonio Canova, can be found in rooms 18 and 19. The Galbiati wing houses objects such as a lock of Lucrezia Borgia's hair (between rooms 8 and 9) and the gloves Napoleon wore at Waterloo (room 9).
The Biblioteca's collection includes Leonardo's original Codex Atlanticus, a copy of Virgil with marginalia by Petrarch, an Aristotle with a commentary by Boccaccio, and autograph texts by Aquinas, Machiavelli and Galileo, among others. Pages from da Vinci's ancient work, especially those showing his inventions, are revolved every few months in glass cabinets in rooms one, two and three.