The museum complex comprises the church of San Fedele and nearby buildings and was officially opened on 31st December 2014, after a ten-year long restoration process. Its story is closely linked to the history of the San Fedele Gallery, founded by its namesake Fondazione San Fedele in the 1950s. Its promoter, father Arcangelo Favaro, was determined to have a role in the lively debate between faith and the arts, which pope Paul VI had brought to the limelight in his famous address to the artists in the Sistine Chapel in 1964.Throughout the years, along with other church institutions and organisations, the Gallery has invited many artists to share their reflectionson the big questions about life and Christian spirituality. Artists as important as Carlo Carrà, Mario Sironi and Lucio Fontana have contributed to this innovative laboratory of the arts.
The experimental works within the Gallery find their final expression in the exhibitions within the church of San Fedele itself. The ‘Holy Art’ is not dead, as claimed in the last century, but it does need a ‘conversion’ of the language, linked to a message but translated into the languages of our times. That is the reasoning behind Lucio Fontana’s altarpiece titled The Sacred Heart (1956), still found in the church today. David Simpson, Mimmo Paladino, Jannis Kounellis, Sean Shanahan, Claudio Parmiggiani and Nicola De Maria are but some of the artists who have been invited in turn to offer their contribution on the fundamentals of the Catholic faith: the Apocalypse, the Cross, the New Jerusalem, or the ex-voto offerings. Their works are imagined for the church and within the church.