The Museum is actually located between via Filodrammatici and Piazza della Scala, in a lateral wing of the historic building designed by Giuseppe Piermarini.
The current construction, dating back to 1831, was designed by Giacomo Tazzini and replaced the so-called "Casino dei Nobili", built according to Piermarini's design at the same time as La Scala. This complex is still known today as "Casino Ricordi". Indeed, the famous music publishing house was located here for many years.
The Ridotto dei Palchi
The "Ridotto dei Palchi" is the first visible hall, once you enter the Museum. Here you can find marble and bronze busts of the main composers and conductors of the period following Verdi, from Toscanini to Puccini. The majestic hall adorned with marble columns is often used for exhibitions, conferences and workshops.
The first room: Piermarini and Paisiello
The first room hosts an oil on canvas called "Musical Instruments" by Evaristo Baschenis from Bergamo. Baschenis was famous for his still lifes depicting musical instruments instead of the usual fruit or game. There are five instruments: a lute, a guitar, a violin and bow, a mandola and a spinet.
Depicted while sitting in front of his instrument, Giovanni Paisiello (1740-1816) was one of the first composers to be performed at La Scala, worked for years in St Petersburg and was the favourite composer of Napoleon.
The second room: the Commedia dell’Arte
The second room is dedicated to the Commedia dell’Arte, which is the popular form of mask theatre that established itself in Italy between the 16th and 18th centuries. At the time, the actors improvised and mixed acting with acrobatics and singing.
Two showcases on the wall host an admirable collection of fine China porcelains whose history is closely bound to La Scala.
The third room: the belcanto divas
The third room of the museum is the early-19th-century belcanto room. On the walls are the portraits of the primedonne who sang in the golden age of Milan and of La Scala.
At the centre of the lunette is Franz Liszt’s piano. The Hungarian composer received this instrument as a gift from Steinway & Sons.
The fourth room: Verdi and la Scala in XIX Century
In the fourth room of the Museum, there are paintings by 19th-century artists, all with a connection to La Scala.
In the centre is the famous work by Angelo Inganni with the sunlit theatre looking out onto a narrow street.
The central showcase contains stage jewellery and props, as well as some princely gifts, such as Napoleon’s dress-sword, given to Giuditta Pasta in Paris in 1823.
The fifth room: Pasta, Patti, Rossini and Wagner
In the fifth room of the museum you can find two portraits of Adelina Patti, a singer and actress who flourished in the second half of the 19th century.
In her portrait by Gioacchino Giuseppe Serangeli. she is seen holding the score for Rossini’s Tancredi open at the page of the famous aria “Di tanti palpiti”, while in the painting by Gérard she is depicted in her costume as "Norma".
The room is completed by two showcases containing some small musical instruments, including a curious crystal flute, and some medals belonging to artistes and composers.
The sixth room: Verdis memorabilia
The sixth room of the museum contains objects that were originally part of the Sambon collection. Busts and statuettes made of bisque porcelain depict famous musicians or theatrical characters.
In the room are also kept some memorabilia some pieces of memorabilia related to Verdi: his death mask; a lock of his hair; a cast of his right hand; his portable writing desk complete with an inkwell, pens, a letter-holder, a pack of cards and a French-Italian dictionary. These objects were all found in Verdi’s room at the Grand Hotel et de Milan when he died.
The seventh room: theatre in the early XX century
In the seventh room, there is a bust of the actress Eleonora Duse. She débuted at the age of five as Cosette in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Her life was spent travelling with the great acting companies of Italy, Europe and America.
The eight room: Verdi, Boito and the stars of the XX century
The eight room of the museum is dedicated to the late 19th and 20th centuries. Lodovico Pogliaghi and Adolf Hohenstein depicted the final hours of Verdi, who passed away on 27th January 1901. Three generations of the Ricordi family who had published the composer’s work are also represented here: Giovanni, Tito and his son Giulio.
A large space is devoted to a long line of stars: Rosina Storchio, Claudia Muzio, Francesco Tamagno, Enrico Caruso, Aureliano Pertile, Tancredi Pasero, Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Mario Del Monaco, Franco Corelli and Leyla Gencer. Then there is a tribute to Rudolf Nureyev and one to Giorgio Strehler.
The large showcase in the centre of the room contains numerous mementos and batons belonging to conductors, as well as the anastatic copy of the score of Verdi’s Requiem