Caffè Fernanda, located inside the Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera Picture Gallery), is named after Fernanda Wittgens, the director who reopened the museum in 1950. It is an elegant meeting spot with charming small tables, paintings on the walls and vintage details. The whole layout revolves around the ample counter, dominated by Pietro Damini’s “St. Bernard Converting William, Duke of Aquitaine”. The Fior di Pesco marble floors and Rosso Lepanto stone frames are original details from the previous interiors.
The café was a project strongly promoted by director James Bradburne, and designed by rgastudio where the museum bookshop used to be. The interiors are inspired by the 1950s, with pink armchairs and brass details; the walls are painted the same teal color that is also used in the gallery, reinforcing the concept that the café is only an extension of the exhibition space. But first and foremost, this is an iconic stop dedicated to a woman who left a deep mark in the history of the Pinacoteca. Fernanda Wittgens was a teacher, art critic and historian, and the first woman at the helm of an Italian museum. She said, “My real nature is that of a woman who was given the tasks of a man by destiny, but always carries them out without betraying female sensitivity”.
Wittgens was the one who chose architect Piero Portaluppi to redesign the structure and annex it to the Academy, Library and Astronomic Observatory, after the building was bombed in 1943 during the Second World War. With resilience and expertise, she tackled her mission to create a museum with different educational itineraries, fit for all types of audiences. Today, this café in her name celebrates her modern ideas, right inside the museum she brought back to life from the ashes, leveraging the power for renewal only art, culture and beauty can spark.