Museum Stories

Beyond the Biennale – Top Five Art Museums to Visit in Venice

Anastasia Manioudaki 1 September 2021 min Read

Venice, with its long history, is an open museum that will leave none unsatisfied. La Serenissima is a dream destination for every art lover. Apart from the many historic sites like San Marco’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, there is a myriad of art museums spanning from the Renaissance to the present day. Most of them are housed inside impressive palazzos, so as an added bonus you can immerse yourselves in opulent Venetian architecture as well.

Let’s see the top five art museums in Venice!

1. Gallerie dell’Accademia

Top 5 Museums in Venice: Gallerie dell' Accademia in Venice, Italy.
Top Five Museums in Venice: Gallerie dell’ Accademia in Venice, Italy. Photo by Didier Descouens via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

The Gallerie dell’ Academia houses the largest collection of Venetian paintings in the world. An essential visit for every art lover, the museum is a crash course in Venetian Renaissance painting, housing works by Bellini, Tintoretto, Veronese, Titian, and others. In its 37 halls, we can admire artworks from the 14th to the 18th century. This includes the mysterious Tempest by Giorgione, or Titian’s last masterpiece, Pieta.  Although rarely on display due to its fragile material, the museum keeps The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo Da Vinci. Probably the most famous drawing in the world.

2. Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Top 5 Museums in Venice: The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy
Top Five Museums in Venice: The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, seen from the Grand Canal. Photo by G.Lanting via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-3.0).

An American heiress and avid art collector, Peggy Guggenheim called Venice home for three decades. Today her magnificent 18th-century palazzo houses her extensive collection. Inside the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on the banks of the Grand Canal, you will find works by Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Max Ernst.

3. Ca’ Pesaro

Top 5 Museums in Venice: Ca' Pesaro in Venice, Italy
Top Five Museums in Venice: Ca’ Pesaro in Venice, Italy. Photo by Wolfgang Moroder via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

For the fans of modern art, Ca’ Pesaro houses the International Museum of Modern Art and the Oriental Art Museum. Inside the impressive 17th century palazzo there are works by Gustav Klimt, Joan Miro, Auguste Rodin, and others. Also, through the museum’s extensive collections you can get acquainted with many lesser-known Italian artists and leave with a rounded opinion of Italian modern art. The third floor of the palazzo is the home of the Oriental art museum, which exhibits artifacts from Japan, China, and Indonesia.

4. Ca’ Rezzonico

Top 5 Museums in Venice: Ca' Rezzonico in Venice.
Top Five Museums in Venice: Ca’ Rezzonico in Venice. Photo by Didier Descouens via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Ca’ Rezzonico is dedicated to 18th century Venice. The palazzo was designed by Baldassare Longhena, a Venetian architect. He is responsible for the Santa Maria della Salute and many palazzos of the Grand Canal, among them the Ca’ Pesaro. Walking the halls of the museum we can see what a palazzo looked like from the inside while admiring paintings by Canaletto, Francesco Guardi, and others. Among the highlights of the collection are Giandomenico Tiepolo’s frescoes from his family home in Zianigo, featuring Commedia del Arte characters.

5. Punta della Dogana

Top 5 Museums in Venice: Punta della Dogana in Venice, Italy.
Top Five Museums in Venice: Punta della Dogana in Venice, Italy. Photo by Jakub Halun via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

To this day, Venice continues to be a paragon of contemporary art. Apart from the Biennale, which takes place in the Arsenale, temporary exhibitions are shown in Punta della Dogana. The building, as the name suggests, was the old sea customs house from the 15th century to the 1980s. In 2008, it was restored as a contemporary art exhibition hall. The restoration was undertaken by Tadao Ando, who stripped the insides of the building but left the exterior intact. Francois Pinault funded the restoration. Today, Punta della Dogana is a part of the Pinault collection and along with Palazzo Grassi form the collection’s contemporary art spaces in La Serenissima.