Founded within the walls of a former monastery in 1982, the Mendrisio Art Museum organises exhibitions dedicated to the great 20th century masters, among those most appreciated both by critics and the general public. After opening with two significant reviews of Paul Klee,the cycle of retrospectives has included reappraisals of painters such as Georges Braque, Alberto Giacometti, Eduardo Chillida, Mark Tobey, Sam Francis, Jean Arp, Julius Bissier, Ben Nicholson, Meret Oppenheim, Fritz Wotruba, Walter Kurt Wiemken and Renato Birolli, with attention always focused on hitherto unexplored aspects and little-known materials used in their work. As a result of these initiatives, the Museum is recognised nationally and internationally and constantly collaborates with major museums in Switzerland and throughout Europe.
Alternating with these events, exhibitions are held that relate to people and themes connected to the region, which examine aspects of local history and present local artists.
Acting as a reference for the region the Museum regularly organises study exhibitions and produces publications regarding the region's art and history. Additionally, every year the Museum holds special interest events for schools. During these temporary exhibitions the Museum organises animation programmes for nursery and elementary schools, thus offering children the opportunity to visit the Museum and become familiar with art through didactic activities.