Projects in common: towards an Italian design museum in Milan, between 1980s and 1990s

Like a Pandora’s box, the foundation of a design museum in Italy, has repeatedly been, for over fifty years, the object of numerous debates, projects and hypotheses, at least until 2007, when the Triennale Design Museum opened its doors in Milan. This article aims to reconstruct some of the episodes in this long story, focusing on two proposals that were elaborated by diverse teams of experts, between the 1980s and 1990s, at a particular moment of transition for the capital of Lombardy. Both found support within the municipal administration, but each from different institutional figures. Neither, however, became effective. One project was the initiative developed starting in 1986-1987 by Assolombarda (Industrial Association of Lombardy) and Amici della Triennale (Friends of the Triennale), involving various personalities from the Italian design community, and which was eventually supported by the mayor of Milan; the other, was a project for a museum and archive elaborated by a group of experts led by historian Anty Pansera, and supported by the deputy mayor of the city. Adding a piece to a long history which has yet to be fully documented and narrated, this article also intends to be an invitation to renew discussion on what a design museum in Italy is or could be.