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Clay Paky illuminates Sforza Castle to tell the story of Milan, past and present
Lighting Designer
Sebastiano Romano, Studio Comunicazione & Immagine di Mariella Di Rao
Photo Credits
Matteo Vecchi, Piero Gatti
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Milan, Italy – From 20 to 22 June, the Sforza Castle in Milan was transformed into a stage for a magical journey of lights and music that took the audience back in time from the Milan of today to 1906, during the Belle Époque, when the world exposition was first held in the city. “The project not only enhanced the Sforza Castle and its precious art collections, but it also linked the monument with Expo 2015” said Milan City Councillor for Culture, Filippo Del Corno.

All the façades of the Rocchetta courtyard were animated with images from the “Achille Bertarelli” print collection, which is kept in the castle itself and tells us about Milanese life and culture in the early 20th century.

The “Castello di Carta” (Paper Castle) project was curated by Sebastiano Romano and Studio Comunicazione & Immagine di Mariella Di Rao. It was promoted by the Milan City Council Department of Cultural Affairs, the “Achille Bertarelli” Print Collection, Sforza Castle and the Milan, Lodi, and Monza and Brianza branch of Confcommercio (the Italian General Federation of Commerce and Tourism) in cooperation with AIDI (Associazione Italiana di Illuminazione – Italian Lighting Association). Banca Mediolanum was the main sponsor and Clay Paky, technical sponsor.

The project was intended to be a fun opportunity to reveal what the castle has to offer to visitors. Among the precious treasures found at the Sforza Castle, home of the Milan City Museum, is the Achille Bertarelli Print collection. It is the only one of its kind in Italy and well known to many scholars. The collection consists of thousands of documents, including “papers” bearing prints, engravings, watercolours and drawings. Together they form an iconographic testimony of human life at the beginning of the last century.

In “Paper Castle”, the architectural façades of the Rocchetta courtyard were animated with projected images reproducing many of the “papers” Achille Bertarelli collected with great enthusiasm and expertise. All the courtyard façades were turned into an enormous screen that surrounded the audience with images. Onlookers were taken back in time as the pictures faded in and out.

This spectacular event also featured projected light rays that shone coloured light beams onto the main façade of the castle. The lights were supplied by Bergamo-based Clay Paky, the world’s leading manufacturer of stage lighting equipment, which was also technical sponsor of the event. Twenty-three Alpha Profile 1500s were used to illuminate the façades. These lights are able to shape light beams and project multiple dynamically transforming images and geometric shapes. The use of this cutting edge technology created a strong emotional impact, which enhanced the castle’s architecture and emphasized the new and future-oriented features of an event such as a world exposition.

There was also a carpet of light inside the castle, leading from the Piazza delle Armi entrance to the Rocchetta courtyard, where the light path widened to mark out the perimeter. Atmospheric music by Vangelis, Franz Lehár and Dimitri Shostakovich accompanied the images.