The exhibition Robert Wilson for Villa Panza. Tales occupies the historical rooms of the villa in a close dialogue of allusions and ideas.

Set in a splendid park of 33,000 square metres, the Villa Menafoglio Litta Panza overlooks the town of Varese from the hill of Biumo. It was built halfway through the 18th century on the site of an existing mansion by the Marquis Paolo Antonio Menafoglio and then changed ownership a number of times after his death in 1769 before being purchased by the Duke Pompeo Litta Visconti Arese in 1823. The property was bought by Ernesto Panza di Biumo in 1935 and left on his death to his four children, Giulia, Alessandro, Giuseppe and Maria Luisa. It was Giuseppe that loved it and lived there the most, forging a link between the villa and his collection of contemporary art. While most of this is housed in the villa today, some of the works are also to be found in major international museums like the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the MOCA in Los Angeles.

In 1996 Giuseppe Panza decided to donate the entire property to the FAI in order to preserve intact for posterity not only his home but also the vast collection it contains as a European treasure chest of American art recognized today as one of the loftiest cultural legacies of the second half of the 20th century.

Villa Panza opened to the public in September of 2000 and hosts temporary exhibitions of international importance every year.

In addition to the monochrome paintings and Minimalist works, the villa’s extraordinary permanent collection is famous throughout the world for the eleven site-specific installations by Dan Flavin on the first floor of the Rustici wing and the seven site-conditioned environments, four by the Californian Robert Irwin and three specially conceived by James Turrell, created in the early 1970s.

In 2013, in connection with the temporary exhibition Aisthesis. The Origin of the Sensations, James Turrell and Robert Irwin devised two works that can still be visited in the Scuderie wing, namely Turrell’s Ganzfeld − Sight Unseen, an extraordinary work, unique in Italy, offering immersion in the totality of colour, and Irwin’s Varese Scrim 2013, a tribute to space and perception.

The Scuderia Piccola houses New York, November 8, 2001 by Wim Wenders, a work in five acts dedicated to Ground Zero and donated to Villa Panza by the German director after his exhibition there in 2015.

The 18th-century grounds of the villa contain works conceived by the artists Stuart Ian Frost (2013), Bob Verschueren (2014) and Peter Randall-Page (2015) during the three-year project Art in Nature and created in direct connection and symbiosis with the trees, vegetation and geometry of the garden. Embedded in perfect geometry of the main courtyard to welcome visitors, Meg Webster’s Cone of Water was donated to the villa by the Panza family in 2016.