The Museo Correr, overlooking the Piazza di San Marco, traces the history of the city of Venice. The building was erected between 1806-1814 during the Napoleonic era, when Venice was part of the Kingdom of Italy (1806-1814) and the stepson of Napoleon, Eugene de Beauharnais, was Viceroy. It took its name from Teodoro Correr (1750-1830), a passionate art collector who was a member of an old family of the Venetian aristocracy. The Venetian painter Giuseppe Borsato worked on the decoration of the interiors, producing a uniquely personal interpretation of the Empire style.
The Museum is laid out in various sections that offer a fascinating insight into the Art and History of Venice. The first section occupies the Napoleonic Wing itself, a nineteenth-century palace for kings and emperors. A noteworthy collection of works by the greatest sculptor of the age, Antonio Canova (1757-1822), can be seen here.
The second section is Procuratie Nuove, which was designed by the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi (1552-1616). It once housed some of the most important civic authorities within the Republic of Venice. The spacious rooms now contain collections that document various aspects of Venetian History, from daily life to public institutions, from naval achievements to local festivities.
Beyond these rooms begins the exhibition of the Art Collection, which continues on the second floor. However, initially the collection was not on display to the public as an organic whole. During the era of its third curator Vincenzo Lazari, it became a proper museum. The period covered ranges from the very earliest days of Venetian painting right up to the sixteenth century, with many of the works on display being incomparable masterpieces.
Its huge range of sculpture, paintings and historical objects provides an insight into city life in the great days of the Republic.
The Museo Correr occupies the building called “Ala Napoleonica” in front of St. Mark’s Basilica, which was built by order of Napoleon.
The Museum extends along the upper floors of the Procuratie Nuoveajoining, the National Library building, and is housed in a series of grand and elaborate rooms, many of which overlook the Piazza. The Correr is now directly linked with the Museo Archeologico and the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, so you can explore the whole complex on a single ticket. The top floor is home to the Quadreria, a gallery tracing the development of Venetian painting.
This is a large museum and you will need a whole morning to see everything. You may also find that this is one to leave for the end of your visit, when what you have already learned about the city will help you to make sense of many of the displays. If time is short, head for the highlights, leaving time to visit the library.
The rooms of the first floor make the ideal setting for the impressive sculptures by Antonio Canova, considered to be the finest sculptor of the age. The focal point of the display is his Daedalus and Icarus, created when he was only 22, in which the older man fixes a pair of wings onto the younger boy.
The Museum has a library and archive which are devoted to collections that document Venetian history, covering everything from daily life and local festivals to the workings of the State, the Arsenale, the ducal elections and the great commercial and naval achievements. These Archives also preserve the original documents of the first experiments of cataloguing Venetian inscriptions and works of art, of the 19th and 20th centuries by studious like Cavalcaselle, Cicogna and Morelli.
A wide collection of maps, including the De Barbari’s giant woodcut giving a bird’s-eyeperspective of Venice, are among the most eye-catching attractions of the Museum.
At the far end of the Museum, past the picture gallery, there are more Venetian displays to enjoy, with cases devoted to games, pastimes and festivals, as well as a whole exhibit of zoccoli, the famous elevated clogs worn by Venetian ladies of leisure.
San Marco 52, 30124 Venice
Entrance for the public:
St. Mark’s Square, Napoleonic Wing, Monumental Staircase
Tel. +39 041 2405211
Fax +39 041 5200935