Ca’ Pesaro palace is home to the two finest Venice museums - the Gallery of Modern Art of Venice and the Oriental Art Museum. It is also an excellent example of Venetian Baroque architecture. In addition, inside is an impressive library of photography and film. You can’t miss this place when in Venice!
The gorgeous Ca’ Pesaro palace stands in Santa Croce. The building faces the Grand Canal and is easy to reach by vaporetto. The closest stop, San Stae, is less than 5 minutes away.
History & architecture
Ca’ Pesaro is a magnificent marble palace that took 58 years to build. The noble Pesaro Family commissioned it to a successful architect Baldassare Longhena. He also designed one of the most significant Venice churches, Santa Maria della Salute. Longhena worked on the palace until he died in 1682. Then, Gian Antonio Gaspari completed the structure in 1710 according to Longhena’s design. After the Pesaro family, the palace belonged to the Gradenigo family and, later, the Armenian Mechitarist Fathers. The last owner of the building was the Bevilacqua family.
In 1898, Duchess Felicita Bevilacqua La Masa donated the building to the city. She imagined the palace as a museum exhibiting the works of young Venetian artists. The Venetian Town Council decided to use Ca’ Pesaro as home to the Gallery of Modern Art. The Gallery came into existence in 1897 thanks to Prince Alberto Giovannelli. He donated six paintings to the city and other noble families, and even the King followed his example. Interestingly, the Gallery wasn’t a part of Ca’ Pesaro until 1899. The Oriental Art Museum, located on the third floor, started with a donation by Prince Henry of Bourbon-Parma.
Why you should visit
Ca’ Pesaro is a must for any modern art enthusiast. There are three stories to explore. The first floor is the permanent exhibition that covers 19th and 20th-century artists. You’ll see works by Klimt, Bonnard, Chagall, Matisse, Kandinsky, Klee, and many others. The collection features many Italian artists, too, including Boccioni, De Pisis, De Chirico, and Sironi. Yet, it’s not all paintings. The museum features incredible frescoes and sculptures. The second floor is where the museum hosts temporary exhibitions. The third floor is the Oriental Art Museum, filled with impressive objects from China, Japan, and Indonesia. The collection consists of 30 000 items. You can also indulge in the library, home to over 6000 films.
Things to do in the area
Santa Croce is a busy neighborhood with Santa Lucia Train Station and Piazzale Roma. Despite that, it has many fascinating sites to explore! Close to Ca’ Pesaro, you’ll see the Natural History Museum, a perfect place for a family visit. Less than 5 minutes from the palace is the Ca Mocenigo, one of the Venice museums dedicated to fashion. If you want an authentic Venice experience, head to the nearby Rialto Market. It is where you’ll find locals buying fresh produce and delicious seafood. From there, you can continue to San Polo. Two of the best Venice churches, Chiesa di San Polo and Basilica dei Frari, are part of that neighborhood.