One hundred years after the birth of the founder of the MAS, the German physicist Gottfried Matthaes (04.09.1920 – 01.08.2010), his daughter Patrizia Matthaes, president of the Association “Friends of MAS”, remembers him:
“The centenary of the birth of my father, Gottfried Matthaes, founder in 1990 of the Museum of Art and Science is approaching.
He was born in Germany near Dresden on 4.09.1920 into a family with an ancient artistic tradition. An aunt was a famous violinist, her sister accompanied her at the piano, while an uncle was a painter. In his early years he devoted himself to the study of philosophy and physics at the universities of Dresden and Erlangen. In 1949, as a collaborator of Siemens Germany, he discovered a technique for creating conductors and other electronic components, better known by the name of printed circuits (the first chips).
Where did Gottfried’s passion for art come from? It all began with the marriage of aunt Gertrude (famous violist) with the renowned painter Walter Kurau. Together they opened a painting school in Dresden in 1906, which was highly appreciated and attended by renowned artists.
Over the years, the Kurau family has collected an educational collection on Greco-Roman and Etruscan art defined by the Italian Ministry of Cultural and Environmental Heritage, with the Decree 5.5.1997, as a “Collection of exceptional historical and cultural interest”. In 1932 the school was closed and part of the collection was inherited by the only grandson Gottfried. Today this collection is partially exhibited at the MAS in Milan.
After the war, in 1952 Gottfried moved to Italy, facing the difficult journey riding a simple bicycle and managing to cross the border thanks to a border guard who pretended not to see him. He found a job with Egidio Cozzi, an entrepreneur in the TV and radio industry, with whom he opened the first factory for the mass production of printed circuits.
My father’s profession led him to travel a lot and it was during these wonderful journeys that he began to collect the first objects that enriched the collection inherited from his uncles.
As he was an only child, he wanted to have a large family and five children were born from his marriage!
I was lucky enough to see how much love for art and curiosity my father used to have for the most extraordinary objects. Each time he told me that the value of an object lies not only in its beauty, but also in its ability to convey emotions.
His scientific curiosity led him to wonder if all the objects he bought or inherited were authentic or not. I have many memories of my father locked in the kitchen, in the warehouse or in his studio studying and analyzing every single piece of art to ensure its authenticity.
In 1990 Gottfried realized his dream of opening a Museum. He set it up in the beautiful Palazzo Bonacossa in Piazza Castello in Milan, and gave it the name of “Educational Museums for the detection of forgery in antiques”. Its mission was to spread its knowledge and to teach anyone how to recognize an authentic object from a copy or a fake.
The Museum changes its name twice, passing from the “Museum of the Art Collector” to the current “Museum of Art and Science”, while maintaining its initial spirit at the service of art.
In 2010, a few days before his 90th birthday, Gottfried passed away after a long illness, during which however he continued to work and to write his last two books.
Peter, Martin and I are the children who have decided to continue the work started by our father. In his memory and grateful for all he taught us, the Museum continues to live and grow.
Ten years after Gottfried’s death, and on the day of his 100th birthday, family and collaborators will be celebrating him remembering what he taught us and the precious legacy of life experience he left us . Thanks Dad ….”