Not just books
The Biblioteca Braidense was commissioned by Maria Theresa of Austria in 1786 and has represented a place of cultural exchange for the city of Milan since it first opened. It is the third largest library in Italy, due to its volume of publications, and has a collection of 1,500,000 books, including 2,000 manuscripts, 350 of which date back to medieval times, 2,306 incunabula and 25,000 sixteenth-century editions. The collection also includes catalogues, religious books housed in the reading room, a rare collection of letters and first editions by Alessandro Manzoni, plus objects and manuscripts that belonged to Italian novelist Lalla Romano. Its magnificent Neo-classical rooms, which contain historic books of immeasurable value, feature the library’s original wooden shelves and furnishings, crystal chandeliers, frescoed ceilings, and a collection of antique paintings that transcend the traditional concept of a library, creating an environment that encourages the promotion of the book as an object of art.
Focus on preservation and cataloguing
The Biblioteca Braidense is an international reference point for initiatives, projects and exhibitions, all aimed at safeguarding and promoting reading and the book per se, with a particular emphasis on the concept of preservation and cataloguing. In addition to being the protagonist of temporary projects and educational initiatives, cataloguing is actually the primary focus of the library’s mission to ensure that a wider audience has the chance to appreciate Brera’s cultural heritage to the fullest.