Turin is simultaneously an industrial hub, former royal seat and gateway to the mountains. Its many facets result in a range of museums and galleries at the core of a lively cultural scene.
Turin’s sumptuous palaces invite visitors to marvel at royal splendour and remarkable art collections. Its gritty, industrial present is also well represented in innovative exhibition spaces, which keep pace with the contemporary art world. A major cultural centre celebrates the proximity to the Alps, while museums dedicated to ancient and faraway cultures are echoes of the city’s notorious taste for knowledge. All this and more features in our selection of the best museums and galleries to visit in Turin.
When this museum opened in 1824, pioneer Egyptologist Jean-François Champollion famously said, “The road to Menfi and Tebe passes through Turin”. Museo Egizio is the world’s oldest museum dedicated to Ancient Egypt, second in importance only to Cairo. The impressive collection ranges from ornaments and mummies to furnishings and monuments, including highlights such as the papyrus of Iuefankh (‘Book of the Dead’), the Ellesyia Temple, and the five-tonne statue of Seti II. The museum also has international standing for its research and conservation activity, which visitors can witness in the ‘Restoration Area’. Guided tours are available.
Via Accademia delle Scienze, 6, 10123 Torino
Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
A dynamic and innovative museum, GAM is the place to see modern and contemporary art in Turin. It builds on the first-ever collection of modern art assembled in Italy (in 1863, as part of the then Museo Civico), which has now grown to include around 45,000 works. The permanent display features painting, sculpture, installations, photography and more, while a spirit of inclusion defines the programme of activities and shows. Highlights include the collection of Arte Povera, as well as works by Canova, Modigliani, De Chirico, Klee, Picasso and Warhol, among many others. The film and video art archive is one of the richest in Europe.
Via Magenta, 31, 10128 Torino
Palazzo Madama – Museo Civico d’Arte Antica
Boasting 2,000 years of history, Palazzo Madama is worth a visit for its architectural features alone. But on top of that, it hosts a rich and varied art collection. The Roman foundations play host to Medieval sculpture and goldwork; art ranging from Gothic to Renaissance is displayed among the remains of the 14th-century castle; the Baroque quarters on the first floor are home to art from the 1600s and 1700s, as well as period furniture and lavish décor. Ceramics, fabric, ivory and other decorative arts can be found on the second level.
P.za Castello, 10122 Torino
Museo d’Arte Orientale
The Museum of Oriental Art offers a wide overview of Asian arts and ancient cultures. Its collection of funerary Chinese objects is the most important in Italy, while the display of Islamic art is also impressive. Other sections are dedicated to South and South-East Asia, the Himalayan region, and secular and religious art from Japan. In the courtyard, a glass pavilion covers two Japanese-style gardens. Nearly 2,300 pieces (plus over a thousand archaeological finds from pre-Islamic Iraq) form part of the museum’s collection, featured alongside a varied programme of temporary exhibitions.
Via San Domenico, 11, 10122 Torino
From amateurs and casual enthusiasts to scholars and professionals, a visit to CAMERA is recommended to anyone interested in photography. This is a locally-rooted institution with a keen international outlook. The focus of this 2,000sqm exhibition space, in the centre of Turin, falls equally on local, Italian and international artists, with past exhibitions from photographers such as Walter Niedermayr and Marin Parr. Both well-known and emerging photographers are featured, as part of a rich programme of shows, workshops and talks.
Via delle Rosine, 18, 10123 Torino
Museo Nazionale della Montagna
The name of the region of Piedmont means ‘at the foot of the mountains’, and its capital, Turin, has always been watched over by them. This museum began in 1874 as a simple observation point, gazing upon the Alps from the top of Mount Cappuccini. Soon, an exhibition space was added, and decades later the museum evolved into a leading cultural centre. The display explores the entire world of mountains, from the ancestral mystery attached to them, through to contemporary issues such as tourism and sustainability. The tour ends exactly where the museum started, at the lookout point.
Piazzale Monte dei Cappuccini, 7, 10131 Torino
Part of the Royal Museums complex, the Galleria Sabauda was founded in 1832 by the then King of Sardegna Carlo Alberto. It merged different painting collections into one, which thanks to later acquisitions, amounts today to around 500 works. Across four levels, the display ranges from the 14th to the 20th century, with a strong focus on Piedmontese, Italian, Dutch and Flemish art. Some of the highlights to look out for include Annunciation (Orazio Gentileschi), Portrait of an Old Man (Rembrandt), Hercules and Deianira (Pieter Paul Rubens), The Three Eldest Children of Charles I and Equestrian portrait of Prince Thomas of Savoy-Carignan (Antoon van Dyck). Consider visiting also the rest of the Royal Museums, included in the ticket price.
P.za Reale, 1, 10122 Torino
Museo Nazionale del Cinema
Right in the centre of Turin, the cinema museum impresses both for location and set-up. It is housed in the Mole Antonelliana, the monumental symbol of Turin erected in 1889 as the then tallest masonry building in the world (167.5m). The exhibition spirals from the bottom to the top of the Mole, creating a spectacular itinerary through the history of cinema. A VR theatre and a poster gallery are included in the tour, as well as interactive areas where visitors discover the early devices and optical effects which led to the invention of cinema. A panoramic view over Turin awaits on the terrace at the end of the visit.
Via Montebello, 20, 10124 Torino
Museo Lavazza hosts an interactive, multisensorial exhibition about all things coffee. Both informative and entertaining, the exhibition space touches upon a variety of themes, from rituality and pop culture to the production chain and the early days of the company. Visitors learn about curiosities such as the espresso machine designed for the International Space Station (ISSpresso, of course), and find themselves surrounded by the typical atmosphere of a 1960s Italian piazza. Tasting sessions and workshops for the children are included in the visit, which offers an immersive experience of coffee culture through the lenses of an iconic brand.
Via Bologna, 32, 10152 Torino
Museo dell’ Automobile
A spectacular scenography designed by François Confino surrounds this museum’s collection of historic cars – around 200 models each telling its own story of industrial creativity and manufacturing skills. The tour divides into two sections, one exploring the evolution of cars alongside the most important events of the 20th century, the other focussing on themes such as mobility, marketing, safety and sports competitions. Temporary exhibitions take place on the ground floor, while the ‘open garage’ in the basement is highly recommended for true car fanatics (by appointment only). The guided tours include customised and themed options.
Corso Unità d’Italia, 40, 10126 Torino