Portrait of a Pilgrim
Monogrammista HL (XVI secolo)
oil on panel
60 × 44 cm

Class of Near Eastern Studies

The Class of Near Eastern Studies, established by the Chancellor Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi in 2009, comprises four sections of Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew and Syriac Studies. Each section follows its own programme and extensively studies linguistic, literary, historical and cultural topics in its sector, following a long tradition of the College of Fellows.

Oriental studies have been strongly rooted in the Ambrosiana since the origins of the collections of manuscripts and ancient prints assembled for Federico Borromeo by his delegates, including Michele Maronita and Domenico Gerosolimitano, who bought books for him from Corfu, Crete, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Cairo and other cities in the Near East and North Africa.

The founder of the Ambrosiana personally cultivated such studies, being interested in Arabic, Syriac and Hebrew, rabbinical exegesis, Jewish philosophy and the Kabbala. The rich fund of books of an Oriental character includes polyglot codices, many of them richly illuminated and dealing with history, science and literature. Hence the proceedings of this Class are inspired by a heritage of extraordinary value, including other cultures such as Iran and Islam, with its disciplines embracing the history of art and science, the miniature and codicology.


In the Classis Orientalis, Arabists, Armenists, Biblicists, Hebraists and Syriacists work together, promoting publications, seminars and research in keeping their specific areas of competence. The 15 founding Academicians in 2009 have been joined today by another 65 from 14 different countries.

Academic activities

The activities, on the impulse of the Academic Board, the Executive Council, the Scholarly Committee and the Academic Secretariat, in harmony with the general orientation given by the President of the Academy, concern the annual Academic Dies (2009-2018), publications of miscellaneous volumes in the “Orientalia Ambrosiana” series, and initiatives of study, cataloguing and research. The principal seminars and summer courses have focused on Arabic and Jewish codicology and palaeography, the Syriac manuscripts in the Ambrosiana and Arab philosophy. The Academician Renato Traini, meritorious for the original impulse that he gave to the Ambrosian Academy, bequeathed his library of Arabic studies to the Ambrosiana.
In the Class, academic partnerships are active with the Saint Ephrem Ecumenical Research Institute (SEERI) of Kottayam, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Tel Aviv.


“5xLeonardo”<br>a single and discounted ticket to visit five Milanese museums


a single and discounted ticket to visit five Milanese museums

A joint ticketing project among 5 Milanese museums to mark 500 years since Leonardo da Vinci’s death and the “Milano Leonardo 500” event

L’oro invisibile,<br>12+1 opere preziose


L’oro invisibile,
12+1 opere preziose

The exhibition presents 12 + 1 precious works, dedicated to the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, conceived by Giulio Manfredi, one of the most internationally appreciated creative talents.

Il Raffaello dell'Ambrosiana. In principio il Cartone


Il Raffaello dell'Ambrosiana. In principio il Cartone

The restored masterpiece of the genius from Urbino in the new exhibition room designed by Studio Boeri Architetti.

The Genius experience. Leonardo and Warhol


The Genius experience. Leonardo and Warhol

To celebrate the fifth centenary of Leonardo’s death, the Crypt of Leonard hosts a great exhibition by Leonardo da Vinci and Andy Warhol.