The Fondazione Querini Stampalia was founded in the 19th century by the aristocrat Giovanni Querini, who gave his palazzo, art collection and considerable funds to the city. His will specified that the money was to be used to open a reading room and library to promote ‘evening assemblies’.
The Foundation has kept the faith in every way, and the Renaissance palazzo is busy throughout the day and into the evenings with students using its facilities, while baroque concerts are a regular weekend feature.
Between 1959 and 1963, the ground floor and garden were redesigned by Carlo Scarpa to become one of Venice’s few truly first-rate examples of modern architecture.
This contrasts perfectly with the palace’s second floor museum, spread throughout a series of period rooms. The museum’s principal delight has to be the series of 67 pictures of Venetian festivals, customs and ceremonies by the 18th century artist Gabriele Bella, and the series of Venetian life by Pietro Longhi.
These give charming glimpses of Venetian life in the 18th century, with interior scenes involving hairdressers and tailors and portrayals of outdoor activities, including a boatload of sportsmen hunting duck.