The 4 Best Venice Art Museums – The Renaissance to Modern Art

How is is that a small city like Venice contains some of the best art museums in Italy? The answer lies partly in the city's wealthy past, when Venice merchants were the kings of the seas and riches from over the world accumulated here. This allowed the masters of Venice to hire the best artists and artisans to work on their buildings and decorate their world.

Another piece of the puzzle is the sheer romance of Venice that has attracted patrons and art lovers right up to the present day. The eccentric heiress Peggy Guggenheim is a good example of this. She loved Venice and lived the later part of here life there, finally creating a museum to house her astounding collection of modern art. Let's look at the 4 top Venice art museums, the places you want to be sure not to miss.

Galleria dell'Accademia

Feast in the House of Levi

If you only visit one museum in Venice make it this one. It's a treasure trove of Italian masters — Titian, Veronese, Giorgione, Bellini, and Tintoretto. Once a convent, it was Napoleon who in 1807 turned it into a museum and filled it with his haul of Venetian art.

The best part is that the museum follows in chronological order from the Middle Ages to the 1700s. Visit in the evening for a spectacular view of Venice from the bridge. During the summer months, Friday is late-opening night when the Accadmia stays open until 10:15 pm. Closed on Monday afternoon, December 25, and January 1.

Galleria dell'Accademia Highlights
  • Medieval Art — Veneziano's Madonna and Child with two Donors, Fiore's Coronation of the Virgin in Paradise.
  • Early Renaissance — Bellini's Enthroned Madonna with Child, Mantegna's St George, Giorgione's The Tempest.
  • Venetian High Renaissance — Veronese's Feast in the House of Levi, Titian's Piega, Tintoretto's The Removal of St Mark's Body.
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Ca'Pesaro Museo d'Arte Moderna

Ca'Pesaro Museo

want a break from Renaissance art? Visit the Ca'Pesaro for a fix of 19th- and 20th-century art with masterpieces by Gustave Klimt, Marc Chagall & Vassily Kandinsky.

Once a grand palace designed by Venetian baroque architect Longhena (he also designed the Ca'Rezzonico museum), it was bequeathed to the city of Venice in 1898. The museum also houses a Museum of Oriental Art with a vast Japanese collection from the Edo period with over 3,000 objects. Closed on Mondays, December 25, and January 1

Ca'Pesaro Highlights
  • Klimt — Judith II (Salome). See it before the city of Venice sells it off, estimated value 70 million Euros!
  • Chagall — The Praying Jew (Rabbi of Vitsbek)
  • Rodin — A rare plaster cast of The Thinker (purchased in 1907)
  • Website

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

It's one of the best collections of modern art in the world. Peggy Guggenheim was an eccentric heiress (her father died on the Titanic) who adored Venice and the arts. Throughout her life, Peggy was dedicated to promoting living artists.

This is the place to see works by Picasso, Braque, Dali, Ernst, Pollock, Klee, Calder & Chagall. Ms Guggenheim lived in Venice for thirty years (1949 to 1979) and she's buried in the museum garden. Also check out the outstanding temporary exhibits. Open daily 10am-6pm. Closed Tuesdays, December 25, and January 1

Peggy Guggenheim Collection Highlights
  • Pablo Picasso — On the Beach. The Poet.
  • Marcel Duchamp — Nude. Sad Young Man on a Train.
  • Marc Chagall — Rain.
  • Vassily Kandinsky — White Cross.
  • Salvador Dali — The Birth of Liquid Desires
  • Website

Scuolo Grande di San Rocco

Scuolo Grande di San Rocco

Known as "Tintoretto's Sistine Chapel", even art-weary visitors will be mesmerized by Tintoretto's 50-plus grand, bold colourful paintings. For twenty years, Jacopo Tintoretto worked for practically nothing painting for Scuola, a Catholic organization dedicated to helping the poor.

In case you're wondering, Tintoretto was the son of a silk dyer and studied under Titian. By age 30, he was famous for his innovative St Mark Freeing the Slave (housed in the Accademia, above). Three of his eight children became his assistants and helped him with his work at the Scuolo. In addition to Tintoretto's works are paintings and sculptures by Italian artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tiepolo, and Marchiori. Closed Christmas Day, New Year's Day, and Easter Sunday

Tintoretto Highlights
  • The Annunciation — an angel swoops in to tell Mary she'll give birth to Jesus.
  • Christ's Passion — a unique view showing the saint from beneath, hovering above a circle of glory.
  • Three Apples — discovered in 1905, this fragment of his painting was never exposed to light and it shows Tintoretto's bright, original colours.
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