The Vincenzo Vela Museum is one of the most important artists' house-museums to have been erected in nineteenth-century Europe. Conceived by the great realist sculptor Vincenzo Vela from Ticino (1820-91) at the height of his career, and transformed into a public museum after it was donated to the Swiss state, in addition to Vincenzo Vela's gallery of monumental plaster casts it includes the bequests of the sculptor Lorenzo Vela (1812-97) and painter Spartaco Vela (1854-95), a remarkable collection of nineteenth-century Lombard and Piedmontese paintings, hundreds of autograph drawings and one of the earliest private collections of photographs in Switzerland.
The art and history of nineteenth-century Italy and Switzerland are intertwined through magnificent portraits of the leading figures of the Risorgimento, while several elements that remind us of the private nature of the residence, plus the landscaped garden, confer upon the property the character of a total work of art. Redesigned by architect Mario Botta, the museum is located at the foot of Monte San Giorgio (a UNESCO World Heritage site) just 500 metres from the Italian border. Temporary exhibitions are held on a regular basis.