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Nine Museums To Enthuse Over In Venice

We love Venice. It is one of the most exciting destinations in Europe. Its eventful history, canals, immortal alleyways and artistic grandeur make this the city where any art lover is likely to fall head over heels. And, no wonder – in addition to the hundreds of churches here, one of the world’s most important networks of museums span the lagoon. Museums which, to cap it all, are not accommodated in conventional spaces. Instead, they practically invade Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings and feature collections which now, well into the 21st century, are capable of giving you hiccups.

With access by gondola, vaporetto or on foot, these are the nine museums you simply cannot pass up the next time you go to Venice. Cominciamo!

1. Accademia – the Largest Collection of Venetian Art

The Gallerie dell’Accademia is housed in three former religious buildings and makes up the leading collection of Venetian art in the world. The exhibition covers five centuries of art, from the Middle Ages to the Rococo, boasting such essential works as Feast in the House of Levi, by Paolo Veronese, Titian’s Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, Vittore Carpaccio's Saint Ursula Cycle, Finding of the Body of St Mark, by Tintoretto and Andrea Mantenga’s St George, in addition to early works by Lotto, the Bellini family and Tiepolo.

2. The Doge’s Palace – the Splendour ofLa Serenissima

While not a museum in the strict sense, the Doge’s Palace provides an essential visit for anyone seeking to grasp the splendour of the Venetian Republic. The seat of government, Palace of Justice and the Doge’s residence, this huge Gothic complex is the ideal place for delighting in some of the city’s foremost artworks, on the spot where they were conceived. Noteworthy, for instance, is the large-format Paradise, painted by Domenico and Jacopo Tintoretto, which presides over the Grand Council Hall. Another must-see are the canvases by Paolo Veronese in the Chamber of the Council of Ten and the luxurious Golden Staircase, built by Sansovino and decorated by Alessandro Vittoria.

3. Peggy Guggenheim Collection – Home of the Great Patroness of the Arts

Entering this unfinished 18th-century palace means venturing into the universe of the celebrated patroness, Peggy Guggenheim. Promoter of such artists as Klee, Pollock, Calder, Kandinsky, Ernst, Picasso, Moore and Braque, Guggenheim acquired this palace on the Grand Canal in 1949 and turned it into her residence. The collection is made up of 200 canvases and sculptures by renowned artists, including Dalí, Magritte, Chirico, Balla, Duchamp, Rothko, Picabia, Delauney, Malevich and Mondrian. Peggy Guggenheim bequeathed the collection to the foundation of her uncle, Solomon R. Guggenheim, on condition that it remained in the city.

4. Scuola Grande di San Rocco – the Finest Tintoretto

A must-see landmark, this former charity hospital built as a tribute to St Roch is one of the best places to see the work of Tintoretto. Completed in 1549, in 1564 Jacopo Tintoretto was commissioned to decorate the ceiling and walls of the Scuola. The standout monumental work in the complex is his Crucifixion, located in the Sala dell’Albergo, in which the artist achieved levels of sentiment never before seen in Venetian art.

5. Museo Correr – History of the Republic

Located in St Mark’s Square, this is one of the city’s leading museums. Based around the endowment which the abbot, Teodoro Correr, bequeathed to the city of Venice, it is the best place to learn the history of the Republic of Venice and the Italian Risorgimento movement. It also boasts a large collection of Venetian painting, particularly the work of Vittore Carpaccio.

Admission to the museum also gives visitors access to the Archaeological Museum and the Libreria Sansoviniana, designed by Jacopo Sansovino, of which Andrea Palladio said it was “the most beautiful building since ancient times”.

6. Museo Fortuny – a Spaniard in Venice

The late-Gothic-style Palazzo Pesaro was the residence of the famous Spanish textile designer, Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, who acquired the building at the turn of the 20th century and lived there until his death. Both the building and its contents were bequeathed to the city by the artist’s widow in 1956. The elegant rooms provide the perfect backdrop for the Renaissance-inspired fabrics embroidered in gold and silver thread, and for the canvases, retables and Fortuny’s pleated silk dresses from the 1920s. A delightful visit.

7. Ca’ Pesaro – 20th Century Art Collection

This opulent Baroque palace houses the International Gallery of Modern Art. Founded in 1897, hanging on its walls are some of the most famous paintings by Gustav Klimt and Marc Chagall, in addition to works by Matisse, Miró, Klee and Kandinsky. Many of them were presented by these artists at the Biennial and acquired by the city. Be sure to visit the Museum of Oriental Art, on the third floor, as it features veritable jewels acquired by the Count of Bardi on his travels in the Far East in the 19th century.

8. Ca’ d’Oro – the Jewel of the Grand Canal

Works by Andrea Mantegna, Luca Signorelli, Vittore Carpaccio and Titian, as well as fabrics, frescoes and sculptures, come together in one of the most valuable displays on the Grand Canal. The museum, which since 1984 has housed the Franchetti Gallery, is located in a 15th-century palace regarded as the finest and most famous example of Venetian Gothic architecture. After undergoing alterations at various times in its history, the 1970s saw the restoration of the original splendour of its facade, one of the most beautiful in the city.

9. Ca’ Rezzonico – A Walk Through 18th-century Venice

This Baroque palace is one of the most priceless in Venice and one of the few palaces open to the public on the Grand Canal. Once famous for its sumptuous banquets, lavish parties and opulent decoration provided by the Rezzonico family, since 1934 it houses the Museo del Settecento, a collection of canvases, frescoes and artefacts which reflect 18th-century Venice. Be sure to visit the spectacular, restored ballroom designed by Giorgio Massari, featuring furniture by Andrea Brustolon, as well as a stunning gilt candelabra. Additionally, the ceilings in three rooms boast paintings by Giambattista Tiepolo.

Text by Aleix Palau for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Aleix Palau, QMeuh, Didier Descouens, Basilio Speziari, saragoldsmith, Michele Rienzo

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