About a century ago, the Municipality of Cremona purchased their Palazzo Affaitati from a family of Cremonese bankers and relocated the remarkable collection – paintings, prints, drawings, enamels, ivories, sculptures, numismatics, books and scientific-naturalistic artefacts – left to the authorities in the mid 19th century by Giuseppe Sigismondo Ala Ponzone. Hence the name of the museum.
The curators are not able to exhibit all of the more than two thousand pieces preserved – the drawings and prints, in particular, can only be viewed by appointment – but the works of Bonifacio Bembo, Camillo Boccaccino, Bernardino Campi and Francesco Bassano, and most notably Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (a Saint Francis in meditation) and Giuseppe Arcimboldo (the Hortolanus) are enough to persuade visitors to visit. This is without mentioning the wonderful Cerano, Nuvolone and Procaccini in the room displaying canvases saved from the demolition of the church of San Domenico, and the series of portraits by Giovanni Carnovali known as "Il Piccio".
One section is dedicated to the city's iconography, while other rooms offer an overview of the second half of the 19th century and the 20th century in Cremona and Lombardy. More recent was the opening of the Music Rooms, with valuable violin-making works from the 17th and 19th centuries. It may look like just a list of names, but it is a feast for the eyes.