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Title: Made in Milan: Corporate Sponsorship in the Restoration of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Authors: Swanton, Richard
Advisors: Yerkes, Carolyn
Department: Art and Archaeology
Class Year: 2019
Abstract: Many scholars have stated that the Galleria is a monument to the unification of Italy and a great step forward in the practice of urban development and building technologies. From its inception, the shopping arcade was created to be a means of transportation between two Milanese cultural landmarks, The Duomo and La Scala, but also as a place of stasis in which the newly developing upper middle class could encounter one another. Over the next 150 years, the Galleria has become home to boutiques displaying the names of great Italian fashion houses, such as Prada. In recent decades, the municipal government has lacked the funds for the upkeep of the building, and in 2014, Prada and Versace stepped up and earmarked a total of three million euros for the restoration of the interior. This thesis looks at the consequences of this restoration and how both the shopping arcade and the fashion houses symbiotically elevate the status of the other. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II has been the subject of numerous technical studies and has long been described as a cultural landmark and symbol of an Italian Identity. However, since its most recent restoration, there has been little literature that has focused on the transformation of the building. Namely, Louise de Vertuile frames the restoration in the context of the 2015 Milan expo and cites the restoration as an aspect of the overarching aims of the Expo’s theme of sustainability. Iva Stoyanova conducted her research on the underlying building technology of the Galleria and how this developed from the prototypic Parisian arcades. Aside from the published documentation of the restoration that was sponsored by the Municipality of Milan, there has only been chronicling of restoration process and little discussion of the lasting effects of the restoration. There was a resurgence in interest in the Galleria approaching the 150th anniversary, which coincided with the 2015 Milan expo. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II has been reexamined in its implementation of revolutionary building technology and spatial effects in an effort to give insight to the restoration process. Since the completion of the restoration, the published literature has focused on the “success” of the restoration due to the combine efforts of its sponsors and have intertwined this success with the aims of the 2015 Milan Expo. This thesis aims to build on this literature and offer a more focused analysis on the implications of this success in terms of the Galleria separate from the Milan Expo. In short, this thesis treats the Galleria as a separate entity capable of showing the pillars of the Milan’s progress as a gateway to industry and modernization. The first chapter of this thesis outlines the social and political conditions that brought about the construction of the Galleria and how this event was both influenced by previously constructed arcade structures as well as a need for urban redesign of the Piazza Duomo. I begin with an overview of the emergence of the arcade as a building type in the early nineteenth century to underscore the function of the building as more than a solid-mass monument. Using Geist’s history of the arcade building type I highlight the key similarities and differences between the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and its other European predecessors. This chapter ends the process by which the Galleria was constructed. The second chapter discusses the theories regarding architectural language. This begins with the writings of Claude-Nicolas Ledoux and pose the French arcade as a plausible response to those writing. I then move to an in-depth description of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in order to dissect that language as being representative of Milanese tradition and history. The third chapter outlines the 2014-2015 restoration of the Galleria and places this case against other instances of landmark restoration funded by Italian fashion houses. By discussing the respective histories, the restoration’s benefactors, Prada and Versace, I support the claim that these were the ideal candidates to undertake this specific project. I conclude that in restoring the internal and external facades of the Galleria, as well as occupying the central octagon spaces in the shopping arcade, these two fashion houses complete the realization of the arcade as a microcosm of Milan.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology, 1926-2020

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