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The monastery

Founded to host the monks of the Olivetan order, the central body of the Museum was built in the early 16th century as a monastery.

The Benedectine convent becomes an Olivetan Monastery

From 1507 onwards the Olivetan monks, who were already owners of flourishing communities just outside Milan, took over the old convent buildings and the San Vittore al Corpo Basilica (which can be visited nowadays, accessing from San Vittore Square), on the decline at the time.
Due to the very bad conditions of the buildings, right after their settling they took action to renovate them, or better to enlarge them.
On March 31ST 1560 the construction of a new church begun, which was to replace the ancient Middle-Ages Basilica and, in the wider context of the renovation project, extension works for the main cloisters leading to the secondary ones were also planned.

The transformation into military hospital under Napoleon

On June 8th 1805 it was ordered through a Napoleonic decree that the monastery would become a military hospital.
The works to adjust the convent’s buildings to the new military needs started off under the supervision of the Engineer Corps. They were conducted between 1807 and 1808.

Transformation into the Italian Army’s barracks

In the following years the hospital yields its place to the Voloire barracks.

The French Army gave up the quarter to the Austrian one; then the Italian Army came, together with the Light Horse, and finally the very famous Artiglieria da Campagna 27th Regiment as well.
In the cartography of the time, it is possible to recognize the building with the new name of Caserma Villata. The Italian Army continued to use the old Monastery according to its very special needs, adding partition walls, opening and closing the gaps and spreading several layers of mortar on the huge walls.
However, the signs of the ancient opulence had really disappeared: the aisles of the huge library were partitioned off and the grand dining-hall was changed into a dorm.

1943: bombing raids on Milan

When in August 1943 the bombing raids on Milan hit the building, though it had already been arranged for the barracks to be moved to the Military Citadel in Baggio, the army was still hosted there.

For a couple of years the Villata barracks existed only as a material quarry; the severe weather conditions were responsible for the rest. The vaults of the cloisters, galleries and minor rooms, once they were left unprotected, became drenched with water; the frost and the torrid sun caused landslides and collapses; it must have been even dangerous venturing to explore the vast field of crumbly walls, left to the utmost decay.

The birth of the National Museum of Science and Techniques

On April 27th 1947 at the 17th of via S. Vittore it was put up the signboard announcing the birth of the National Museum of Science and Techniques.

Three months later there was the resolution to do the works which would be done in two parts: the first one was assigned to the enterprise of the Cerutti Cousins, aimed at stopping the decay process and securing the building; the second was assigned to the Giovanni Bertani enterprise, which would accomplish the project of museum reconversion, designed by the architect Portaluppi.

Bibliographic Sources:

* F. Reggiori - Il Monastero Olivetano di San Vittore al Corpo in Milano, Milano Silvana Editoriale D'arte
* S. Lattuada - Descrizione di Milano..., 1737, fourth volume

The Museum

Museo Nazionale della Scienza
e della Tecnologia
"Leonardo da Vinci"
Via S. Vittore 21
20123 Milano

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