Venice Explorer: Must-see Museums

Venice is a city with deep history and cultural heritage. At one point Venice was the most powerful seaport in European – and primary gateway to trade with the East. During The Renaissance, Venice became an epicenter of artistic innovation.

Some of the world’s greatest artistic masters like The Bellini Family, Giorgione, Titian, Carpaccio, Canova, Sansovino, Canaletto and more hail from Venice and its environs

In addition to art – Venice has been one of the most important cities in development of music from Antonio Vivaldi’s gorgeous symphonic movements like The Four Seasons to Opera and beyond.

Add in the fact that numerous authors and playwrights have included scenes from Venice in their repertoire (including Shakespeare – although he never visited the city, he immortalized the region in several plays)

It makes sense that a city that was founded in circa 500 AD would be home to over 100 museums.

Venice offers museums and experiences for all backgrounds and interests. As an art history lover, I was drawn to learning about Venetian art history, which is renowned for their use of texture and colors.

Today I am going to highlight Venice’s MUST-SEE Museums. I apologize if I’m missing any key museum here, just an opportunity for us to explore a new museum in a future post.

11 of Venice’s museums are run by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia – tickets/packages can be bundled via their website. I’ll note the Fondazione Musei’s with a FM notation.

  • The Accademia Gallery
Bellini’s Madonna and Child

One of the most important art museums in Italy…if you can only visit one art museum in Venice – this should be it! The collection showcases the history of Venetian and Italian art with works by masters including The Bellini Family, Bassano, Mantegna, Tintoretto, Titian and the elusive Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci (unfortunately rarely on display)

To plan your trip click here

  • Correr Museum:

We visited during our tour of St. Mark’s Piazza, but the Correr Museum deserves a second mention. Located in a Neoclassical Palace built by Napoleon during his conquest of Venice (a sore reminder for Venetians), this collection was begun as a gift to the city of Venice in 1830 by Teodoro Correr. He was a passionate collector aof Venetian history and art and this museum in many ways is a love letter to Venice and its history.

Highlights include the Canova collection, treasures of art and shipbuilding.

To plan your visit click here. FM

  • Doge’s Palace:

FM Museum

We toured the Doge’s Palace in a previous adventure. Learn more here.

It is a MUST-SEE Museum in Venice along with St. Mark’s Basilica

Ca’ Rezzonico – Sala del Parlatorio – Concordia coniugale incoronata dalla Virtù alla presenza della Giustizia, della Prudenza, della Temperanza, della Fama,dell’Abbondanza – Costantino Cedini

The Ca’ Rezzonico is a gorgeous 18th-century Baroque palace on The Grand Canal. Part of the FM museums it offers tourists a chance to encounter what life in 18th-century Venice was like for the nobility.

The museum is worth seeing just for the Tiepolo paintings on the walls and the Guardi ceiling painting.

Every room is filled with art, sculpture and architectural decadence that somehow fits this palatial mansion.

My favorite: The Canaletto paintings. (Canaletto was an important artist in Venice during the 18th-century. His realistic scenes of Venice life are the closest to a ‘painted photograph’ that I’ve seen.

  • The Peggy Guggenheim Collection Museum

We visited The Guggenheim in NYC recently – this museum is also run by The Guggenheim Foundation.

Peggy Guggenheim was the niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim, who started The Guggenheim in NY. Peggy’s father died on The Titanic and in finding her idenity as she moved towards adulthood, Peggy fell in love with modern art. She traveled extensively and worked with many of the who’s who in the modern art world. Peggy is largely responsible for cementing Jackson Pollack’s legacy in the mainstream.

Peggy lived in this waterfront home in Venice for many years. Upon her death it was turned into a museum. The collection is unique given its modern focus and has important works by Picasso, Braque, Duchamp and more.

To plan your visit click here

  • Museo della Musica

Immerse yourself in the history of Venice’s musical history including exhibits about my favorite composer Antonio Vivaldi.

  • Fun fact: Vivaldi was known as ‘The Red Priest’ as he had red hair and served as a priest. Vivaldi was in charge of a group of orphaned girls who were instructed in music in hopes of having a better life. Vivaldi eventually moved (and died) in Vienna, but his life and legacy is intricately tied to Venice

Plan your visit here

  • Venice Glass Museum

Venice has long been renowned for its gorgeous handmade glass. You can attend several glass-blowing exhibits in Venice central, but for the most authentic experience you need to visit the neighboring island of Murano – the glass capital of the world!

There are vaporetti boats that will ferry you to the island.

Fun fact: When we were in Grand Portgage in 2022 (Minnesota), I learned that the Native Objibwa tribe loved Venetian glass and would trade furs for it.

FM Museum…Plan your visit here

  • Palazzo Mocenigo-The Museum of History of Textiles, Costumes and Perfume

An often overlooked jewel in Venice, this wonderful museum allows you to see historic costumes from Venice’s history in a palace setting.

This palace used to be home to the Mocenigo family that birthed seven Doges. The house also is where Lord Byron stayed during his time in Venice.

FM Museum…Plan your visit here

  • The Jewish Museum

The Jewish heritage in Venice is important to remember no matter what your faith. Venice was home to the first ‘ghetto’ and the traditional Jewish community in Venice was strong. When Napoleon dismantled the requirements for the Jewish population to live in the ghetto – many eventually left…now the area is assimilated but has lots of history and synagogues you can visit. The Jewish Museum helps to relate the story of The Jewish population in Venice.

Plan your visit here

  • The Sculoa Grande di San Rocco

Founded in 1478 as a lay confraternity to the cult of St. Roch. The brotherhood got the remains of St. Roch and they credited his intercession towards their becoming the richest Scuola in the city.

This building is a must see for art lovers. It includes over sixty paintings in their original setting including the massive Tintoretto decorations…telling the stories from the New and Old Testaments

Fun fact: ‘Scuola’ was the Venetian term for a confraternity. Most male Venetians belonged to one, except for the nobles, who, however, sometimes served as patrons or trustees.

Plan your visit here

A few others worth checking out

  • Museum of Lace – The island of Burano is home to the lace center of Italy and was even featured in a Hallmark film “The Wedding Veil”

We only touched the surface on Venice’s amazing museums, but hopefully this is a good primer to get you excited about this Serene City on the Adriatic

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