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Venice’s Newest Museum is Also One of Its Oldest

According to a fascinating article in today’s New York Times, one of the first true museums ever, the Palazzo Grimani, is now one of Europe’s newest exhibition spaces as the 500+-year-old structure reopens to the public after a century and a half of disuse and a nine year restoration.

The story of the Palazzo Grimani is as knotty and rich in crimson details as any part of Venetian history. It was the palace of a doge that eventually feel into the hands of Domenico and Giovanni Grimani, an uncle and nephew whose massive collection of contemporary and antique statuary formed the basis for the city’s Archeological Museum and other civic art institutions. Their collection spilled over into the private showcase of the Palazzo, which became a residential museum toward the end of the 16th Century. As the Times details, it was a must-see stop in any tour of the city (or Italy for that matter), until old age and neglect caught up with it in the 19th Century. Now, a careful restoration has made the Palazzo safe for tourists yet again—no longer a stage for free-standing artworks, but an artwork to be contemplated and appreciated in of itself. Writer Roderick Conway Morris waxes poetic about the patina, the chipped frescoes, and the mystique of this architectural marvel. We just hope that after a few months of tourists enjoying the museum for its own sake (much like the early days of the Bilbao Guggenheim) we’ll see a few statues carefully arranged in this gorgeous setting.
“Reopening of Palazzo Grimani Revives Memory of Creator” (New York Times)
Museo di Palazzo Grimani
Campo Santa Maria Formosa
Ramo Grimani, Castello 4858
Venice, Italy
Top: Interior of the Palazzo Grimani, courtesy of the New York Times.
Bottom: Detail of a fresco from the interior, courtesy of the New York Times, interior, courtesy of the Palazzo Grimani.

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