Reportage

From warehouse to art guild

Frigoriferi Milanesi is the warehouse where furs were once stored during summer. Today its activity has changed to be in line with cultural trends.

01Frigoriferi Milanesi was established in 1899 as an ice factory and refrigeration warehouse to meet the needs of a population which at that time were very far from the comfortable habits of a city that we are used to today. Here stocks of foodstuffs had been stored until the era of home appliances. Fresh foods were sent by refrigerated railway cars from Porta Vittoria rail station throughout Italy.
During the course of time Frigoriferi Milanesi frequently changed their activity in order to keep up with the current economic development.
Further into the economic boom, they stored carpets, jewels, valuables, and above all furs, exceeding over 40 thousand items a year. Today this kind of service is almost no longer requested, but it is still active and also offers the possibility to have the fur repaired or modified.
Since 2003 Frigoriferi Milanesi has been hosting Open Care – Services for Art, the first location in Europe to run all activities concerning art business ranging from management, conservation and evaluation to vaults and logistics.
02The conservation service is carried out by outsourced labs specialized in paint restoration and multi-material works, equipped with ancient scientific instruments and also providing scientific analysis, and so on. Besides conservation, services also exist involving appraising, evaluating, archiving, buying and selling of objects d’art. A residency program is (remove ‘also’) available as well: it deals with a service consisting of managing residences for artists. The activity is carried out by the FARE association that supports travels and cultural exchange of young artists and make available one residence, various art studios and tutoring service. “In 2010 we turned these wide spaces into a place for art meetings and cultural exchanges – says Gabriella Cabassi, manager of Frigoriferi Milanesi. The location started housing different activities relating to art and culture, such as the publishing house, Marcos y Marcos, Ugo Mulas photographic archive, Greenpeace, the Association Filippo de Pisis, the psychotherapy schools Philo and Nous, Slow Food Italia, etc…”.
After the heavy renovation works projected by the studio 5+1AA from Genoa, Frigoriferi Milanesi, though maintaining its historic structure of a late nineteenth century building, acquired a more modern style and became functional according to its new targets. The historic industrial building is also home to the Ice Palace.
03The Art Nouveau style building was built in 1923 and it was the largest covered ice rink in Europe; closed in 2002, today it is a multifunctional location for gala evenings, corporate events, conventions and concerts. Among its noteworthy events is the “WRITERS #0. Gli scrittori (si) raccontano” (Writers tell it all), a two-day workshop with well-known writers and emerging authors (remove comma) that took place last November. Writers proposed their menus from the kitchen of Frigoriferi Milanesi; Sala Carroponte, where the historic hook of the overhead crane for the transportation of ice blocks still hangs, hosted videoprojections and readings; then there was music and bistro at Cubo, where once there had been the freezing motors; and finally a gallery of books from Utopia bookstore in the former ice warehouses.

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