“What is the purpose of a cultural institution?” This is the fundamental question, our point of departure. We are convinced that art is profoundly useful and necessary, as well as engaging and attractive. Its role is to enrich our daily lives, help us understand the changes occurring within ourselves and in the world around us. This is the conviction that forms the basis for the Fondazione’s future activities.
In May 2015, the opening of the permanent venue of Fondazione Prada in Milan confirmed the open-minded and welcoming approach that has characterized the Foundation in dealing with the purposes and importance of a cultural institution in today’s world.
Fondazione Prada mainly focuses on ideas and the ways in which man has expressed them in different disciplines: literature, cinema, music, philosophy, art and science. The new space broadens the scope of the Foundation’s knowledge in which every field has its own autonomy and, at the same time, the coexistence of disciplines produces unpredictable resonance and cultural interaction.
The architectural project developed by OMA, led by Rem Koolhaas, extends the repertoire of spatial solutions in which art can be exhibited and shared with the public. The new location is marked by a complex architectural configuration that combines seven existing buildings with three new structures (Podium, Cinema and Torre). The venue is the result of the transformation of a distillery dating back to 1910’s. In OMA’s project, preservation coexists and interacts with the creation of a new architecture. Located in Largo Isarco, in the southern part of Milan, the complex extends over 19,000 m2.
The Podium, a building with high exhibition standards, houses temporary projects and exhibitions. The Haunted House, one of the original structures inside the complex, is the setting of the site-specific intervention by Robert Gober, while the basement of the Cinema, a flexible and multifunctional building, houses the permanent installation “Processo grottesco”, by Thomas Demand. The Prada Collection, which mainly includes works from the 20th and 21st century, is used as a research and investigation tool. Curators, artists and architects, as well as scientists, students, philosophers and writers, are invited to offer new interpretations and contribute fresh ideas that spawn new projects and thematic exhibitions.
The broad and varied program is a reflection of the structure of the Foundation, based on a combination of curatorial departments coordinated by Astrid Welter, Mario Mainetti and Alessia Salerno, the Thought Council, with a variable composition, whose current members are Shumon Basar, Cédric Libert, Elvira Dyangani Ose and Dieter Roelstrate, the Presidents Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli and the artistic and scientific superintendent, Germano Celant.
The opening of the new venue was timed in concomitance with the launch of the permanent educational program of the Accademia dei bambini [Children’s Academy],a project curated by Giannetta Ottilia Latis and developed in collaboration with 18 students from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Versailles, coordinated by Cédric Libert and Elias Guenon. The Academy is designed for 4-10 year-old children, and provides the perfect environment for recreational activities and workshops, a space open to the dialogue between grownups and kids and to various playful, creative and learning experiences.
Bar Luce, designed by the American director Wes Anderson and situated in the entrance building of the new complex, reproduces the atmosphere of an old Milanese café. The wall and ceiling decoration is a “miniature” version of one of the landmarks of the city, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, while the furniture, colors and interior elements pay tribute to the golden years of Italian cinema, recalling pop culture and the Italian aesthetics of the ‘50s and ‘60s.