Jaillan Yehia

5 Must-Visit Modern Art Galleries In Turin

Written by Jaillan Yehia

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Fibonacci sequence at the Merz Foundation

Fibonacci sequence at the Merz Foundation

Turin might be best-known for Winter Olympics, Fiat and Lancia factories and that eponymous Shroud but it turns out that the once-industrial hub is hiding an artistic secret, for nestled in the Alps of Northern Italy is a contemporary art epicentre bursting with challenging and inspiring contemporary art. Here are the top 5 modern art galleries in Turin…

As soon as you arrive in Turin you’re told how easy it is to get the train to Milan (it takes under an hour) yet it’s clear that Turin’s citizens are hopeful that you won’t want to go to Milan after all and will be charmed by their quietly impressive city.

Turin needn’t sweat its rivalry with the Lombardy capital, as for all Milan’s Duomos, gallerias and Last Suppers Milan can’t compete on a contemporary art basis with this Alpine artists’ paradise. The modern art trail here goes beyond the city walls, and sometimes even lives on them, such as during the winter Luci d’Artista when light installations shine from the Roman fortifications.

Year round Turin is an modern art magnet, and here are the top 5 modern art galleries in Turin which will pull you in:

1. Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli

The spiral assembly line of the Lingotto factory

The spiral assembly line of the original Lingotto factory in which the Agnelli collection is housed

In the building housing the original Fiat factory that first put Turin on the map you can now find shops, concert halls, theatres and the piece de resistance the Agnelli Art gallery –  where modern art in the shape of work by Tracey Emin, Francis Bacon and Sarah Lucas currently co-exists with a collection of Matisse, Manet, Renoir and Modigliani and where, this being a personal collection, breathtaking classical works by Canaletto provide an unusual contrast.

Renzo Piano was behind the transformation of the building, though you can still check out the automobile test track on the roof opposite the art gallery itself.

Now on: Freedom Not Genius, works from Damien Hirst’s Murderme collection are on display for only the second time in history, including pieces by Banksy and Warhol.

2. Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea

There can be no more stunning setting for modern art than the vast Baroque chambers of the Rivoli Castle perched on a hill in the Turin suburbs. As well as a permanent collection of about 300 works, enough to rotate constantly, the museum has temporary exhibitions and most famously includes Maurizio Cattelan’s striking  “Novecento” a taxidermied horse hanging from the castle ceiling. The building itself is almost as contentious as the art, having gone through centuries of misfires it eventually opened not in 1894 as you might expect but in 1984 –  and there are little touches around the building such as digital watch-style fonts on the castle doors to alert you to the old yet new nature of the setting.

Now on: Paola Pivi. Tulkus 1880 to 2018 is an exhibition of over 1000 Buddhist photographs of special spiritual significance dating back to 1880.

3. Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

Original photograph of Bobby Kennedy as part of the For President Exhibition

Original photograph of Bobby Kennedy as part of the For President Exhibition

The Sandretto foundation, housed in a well-designed modern hangar of a building makes a perfectly executed bid to demystify contemporary art by offering a free drop in service with art ‘mediators’ who help you understand the art itself rather than give you a standard gallery tour. Temporary exhibitions are often geographical and have included Russian, Chinese and Korean art and cultural trends. It is also worth stopping for lunch at the stylish cafeteria or the more formal restaurant upstairs.

Now on: Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson painted his friend and fellow artist 144 times in 6 months. The pair listened to and played music and drank while painting in Venice, and the public could drop by and see them at work making this performance art as well as purely canvasses. There’s also an insightful exhibition on American politics including an incredible collection of  campaign badges dating back to Adlai Stevenson.

4. Fondazione Merz

Fibonacci Sequence with apples by Marisa Merz

Fibonacci Sequence with apples by Marisa Merz

A small and highly personal whitewashed gallery dedicated to the late artist Mario Merz, this space is always filled with challenging conceptual art, currently including thought-provoking installations by Mario Merz’s 82 year old widow Marissa. The Merz foundation aims to explore the concept of endless expansion through the Fibonacci sequence, and asks ‘Que fare?’ or ‘What to do?’  in which Merz’s work is rooted. The idea behind the art is the concept that we are always doing, choosing, and therefore transforming.

Now on: As part of the citywide It’s Not the End of the World series which asks artists to work on ideas based on the Mayan prophecy that the world will end this month Arab blogger and artist Zena el Khalil’s is exhibiting the short film ‘Beirut, I Love You’. She interprets the theme as a shiver-inducing piece of timely biography, telling the story of two girls in the war-torn city. ‘What happens the day after ceasefire?’ she asks. ‘When do the media get bored of the topic?

5. GAM (Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea)


Uprooted tree outside Turin’s GAM Building

This is Turin’s answer to MoMA and immediately catches your eye with an uprooted tree balanced on a plinth to welcome you to the building, while the slogan ‘All Art Has Been Contemporary’ invites you to re-think your opinion of what constitutes modern art before you even enter.

The huge body of around 45,000 works are presented in non-conventional ways, and you are invited to walk through each room, in the words of the director of the gallery ‘leaving your soul to the works that call you’.

Now on: A Salvatore Scarpitta exhibition showing full-sized race cars made by the artist uses a high-tech augmented reality tool to give you a 3D experience of the exhibits using a QR scanner on your smartphone.

3 More Must-Visit Museums In The City

The National Cinema Museum Turin

The National Cinema Museum Turin


The National Automobile Museum

A rare collection of 200 cars some dating back to 1769

The Egyptian Museum

The recently renovated museum is the only one in the world outside Cairo to be devoted to Egyptian artefacts

The National Cinema Museum

A must for film buffs the museum is housed in Turin’s Mole Antonelliana building and culminates in a panoramic view of the Alps




SavoirThere was a guest of the Turin Tourist Board.

The Torino & Piemonte Card is ideal for seeing the contemporary art scene in Turin. Giving access to over 180 museums and exhibitions plus free transport on the train to and from the airport, it costs from 23 euros.

Where to stay

NH Santo Stefano is a modern centrally located hotel with panoramic views of the Roman Walls from the rooftop viewing point.


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