The Raccolta delle Stampe "Achille Bertarelli" (the "Achille Bertarelli" Print Collection), was established in 1927 to enhance the exceptional collection of 300.000 prints that its founder Achille Bertarelli (1863-1938) donated to the City of Milan in 1925. Open to the public and initially placed on the ground floor of the Sforza Castle’s Torre dei Carmini, the collection has the primary purpose of providing documentation. The breadth and diversity of the holdings have allowed for the creation of an exceptional archive that describes every expression of human activity.

An extraordinary archive

Following his passion for collecting and not allowing himself to be influenced by prevailing aesthetic standards, Bertarelli collected all manner of iconographic documentation: geographical maps, posters, bookplates, business cards, fashion plates, postcards and much more. Of course the collection also includes antique and modern artistic drawings, which are subject to special conservation and are the object of specific and contemporary research. The sections devoted to the study of furniture and the decorative arts, such as Mazzucotelli, Quarti and Mongiardino holdings are also of relevance and importance.

The new seat of the archive

The current headquarters of the Collection, which opened in 1978 and was equipped with a spacious reading room in 2002, today retains approximately one million copies. A specialised library is also attached to the institute, containing over 700 periodicals and publications both in and out of print, 3.500 antique illustrated books and 25.000 modern volumes on the history and techniques of engraving, graphic design in publishing, graphic design in advertising and museum and exhibition catalogues. Particularly worthy of mention is the Levi Pisetsky holding which includes 1.300 antique and modern publications on the history of daily life.  The holdings offer scholars and enthusiasts precious materials and research ideas as was envisioned by the founder of the collection.