A study in horns – MUDEC

mudec samurai horns
mudec samurai horns
This is indeed the prettiest horned thing I drew.

One of my favourite things is sketching at museums and exhibitions. For many reasons:

  • I’m very sensitive to temperature, and museums and exhibitions are warm in the winter and cool in the summer (if they have AC).
  • I tend to “eat” visual inputs very fast and sketching puts me in the condition to both take my time to really look at things and also ask myself what I actually like and want to draw.
  • It feels like studying and improving and learning, especially if the works are from classical artists. Greek statues, Neoclassical sculptures, Renaissance paintings are what all artists before us (and Lord Google of the reference picture) looked at to understand the human body and its poetry.


Lately I’ve been visiting a new space in my city again and again: MUDEC, the new Museum of Cultures in Milan.

mudec horned head human skin
Sometime something is so creepy that you just need to draw it

The museum itself is really nice, hosting both a permanent collection and rooms for different exhibitions. (The Barbie thing was creepy, but a smart move: parents bringing kids to see that could then discover what else the museum had to offer.)

The permanent collection will be free until august 2016, and it’s what I’ve kept going back for. It’s a dream, full of strange things from around the world and visually very stimulating. The displays are nicely done and a lot of them have “secret” drawers that you can open to find the most amazing things. For the detail-oriented visitor it’s an infinite adventure between cultures and artifacts.


The main collection is divided in several rooms but my favourite is the wunderkammer: a big display in the middle of the room, with comfy seats on one side and a clean floor on the other, full of stuffed animals, strange machinery and horns. HORNS.

mudec horned mechanical devil
A mechanical devil. It looked like it was built to spit fire or make noises. We'll never know.

After looking back at my sketchbooks I realized my relationship with this museum is based on horns and horned things. They’re in every room, and I always end up drawing them, but only realized this later. The first thing I drew was a mechanical devil and I kept drawing horned things after, I was biased.

So if you’re in the city and want a nice place to explore, this is a good spot.

Practical tips for the sketcher:

  • Bring a stool if you don’t like to sit on the floor to draw, there are seats but not everywhere. Sitting on the floor is ok, the museum guards won’t bother you like in other places (I’m looking at you Fondazione Prada).
  • You are allowed to use watercolors, everything is behind glass anyway.
  • There’s a nice cafeteria on the bottom floor, and lockers for jackets and stuff. If the lockers are full you can stuff your jacket in your bag and leave it at the wardrobe. There’s also a restaurant on the top floor but it looks expensive.

    Official website
mudec horns cervo
horns horns horns

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