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Stepping into Venice is like stepping back in time. The gothic architecture, the Renaissance influences, and even the flowing canals make you feel as if you’ve transported right back to the 16th and 17th centuries. In a city rich with culture and history, it’s no wonder why Venice is one of the most visited cities in Italy.
To really get a feel of Venice, you’ll want to stop by one of the many museums in the city. And in most cases, the stunning palaces and buildings that house the museums are just as impressive as the museums themselves!
Whether you’re interested in classic art, Venetian music, or natural history, you’re sure to find something to entertain you in the City of Canals.
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No trip to Venice would be complete without a visit to Palazzo Ducale, or Doge’s Palace. It was formally the home of the Doge of Venice and later turned into a prison before opening to the public.
Considered one of the most iconic buildings in Venice, Palazzo Ducale is a grandiose complex of Venetian Gothic architecture, which is almost as impressive as the museum itself. Inside, you’ll find glamorous frescoes, decorated chambers, and even a historic prison cell! The detailed audio guide is also well worth the extra cost.
Skip the line and get priority admission to Palazzo Ducale here!
If you take a gondola ride, you will probably cruise right by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection! Housed in an 18th-century palace, the museum houses the modern art collection of American Peggy Guggenheim, who lived in Venice for over 30 years.
You’ll find paintings and sculptures from Italian futurists and modernists including Gianni Mattioli, Giorgio de Chirico, and Picasso. If you’re a fan of abstract or surreal art, then you absolutely cannot miss a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
Enjoy a full day at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection with skip the line tickets!
Located on the Grand Canal, the Ca’ Pesaro is an art museum built inside a lavish 17th-century building. It contains paintings, photographs, and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries. With over 10 different rooms of exhibitions, you could easily spend all day admiring the works of artists such as Gustav Klimt, Pierre Bonnard, and Adolfo Wildt.
There are also several exhibits focused on Italian design and art specifically from the trendy 1950s and 1960s. Don’t miss the top floor, which has over 30,000 artifacts of Oriental Art.
Editor’s Note – If you are going to stay in Venice, you should check out our article about where to stay in Venice.
Named after Teodoro Correr, the Museo Civico Correr is a glimpse into Venice’s civic history. The museum has almost 20 different rooms of artwork, many of which include art pieces and drawings from Correr’s personal collection. Many of the paintings were made right here in Venice, and come from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.
You’ll see how Venice has changed (or hasn’t changed) over the last few centuries! And the best part? Entry is included with your ticket to the Palazzo Ducale.
Housing some of the top Venetian artists and painters, Galleria dell’Accademia is a must see for any art fan. You’ll see classic works from Bellini, Canaletto, and even Tintoretto lining the walls of the gallery.
The gallery is arranged chronologically, and you see the iconic paintings from the Byzantine and Gothic periods all the way until the 18th century. Don’t miss the stunning paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, the clear highlight of the gallery.
History has it that a group of young Venetians built an exclusive club dedicated to San Rocco, a saint that could protect against plagues. The inside of the building is marvelously painted by Tintoretto. It includes 60 of his finest works based off the Old and New Testaments showing the fall of man to humanities redemption by Christ.
You’ll also find other paintings by Titian, Giovane, and Tiepolo. If you’re still interested in learning more, hop over to the neighboring church of San Rocco, which contains the remains of the saint himself.
P.S. – Have a look at our guide to the top hotels in, Venice – for all budgets!
Nicknamed the “Island of the Mad”, the island of San Servolo is a unique experience away from the crowded canals of Venice’s city center. It was once the location of Italy’s most prominent mental institutions, which took in over 200,000 patients starting in the mid-1700s. It was transformed into a museum in 2006, educating visitors about its historic past.
Walk through laboratories, therapy rooms, pharmacies, and even an on-site anatomical theater. Most of the medical equipment that was used is still on display today!
If you need a break from classic art, head to the François Pinault Collection for a fresh breath of air! You’ll see some of the top Italian artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries that came directly from François Pinault’s private art collection.
There are over 3,000 paintings in total, so you can get your fill of modern art! The interior of the building was remodeled by Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect. It’s equally as modern and impressive as the paintings inside the museum!
Mariano Fortuny, a Spanish designer, and artist lived right here in Palazzo Pesaro Orfei (now known as Palazzo Fortuny) for much of his late life. Fortuny also designed many of the rooms in the building himself.
Museo Fortuny is dedicated to his eccentric and extravagant designs and includes many of his original paintings, fabrics, and textiles. You can visit the museum to see his art pieces and walk the same halls where he had his painting and design studios.
Love History? – These are the 25 MUST KNOW facts about the history of Venice!
Experience da Vinci’s most famous works up close and personal as you have never seen before! Using interactive videos, infographics, and hands-on laboratories, you’ll be able to see how his models and machines work first-hand.
Although the Leonardo da Vinci Museum may be small, it’s still an excellent homage to one of Italy’s finest intellectuals! No need to buy a ticket to the Louvre in Paris; you can look at a digital recreation of the Mona Lisa right here in Venice.
Get first entrance priority and 10% off your purchase at the museum shop with skip the line tickets.
For a glimpse into the luxurious life of Venetian nobility, stop by the Fondazione Querini Stampalia. This house turned museum shows the living quarters, decoration, and furnishings of the affluent Querini Stampalia family.
Of course, the family hired Carlo Scarpa (only the best architect around) to design the interior and exterior of the house. Besides touring the house, you’ll also find the family’s vast art collection, which includes everything from classic art by Bellini and Tiepolo to modern works Da Venezia and Mario Stefani.
Murano glass is well known all over the world, and many people are unaware that it’s made locally right here on Murano Island! At Museo del Vetro, you’ll learn all about the history of hand-blown Murano glass including the Golden Age of the mid-1400s.
The museum also showcases some of the most stunning pieces ever to be made from the glass. Everything from delicate vases to glitzy chalices can be found in the showrooms!
Cruise to the Museo del Vetro in style, with a private boat tour of the Grand Canal and Murano Island.
Located in the historic Lace School of Burano, Museo del Merletto will teach you everything about the precious and delicate art of lace making! Not only will you learn about different types of lace, but you’ll also see the machines, tools, and implements used to weave the fabric to life.
There’s also a small exhibit on the history of Burano Island. After your visit, you’ll be able to distinguish between different stitches and lace types found in all of the souvenir shops in Venice!
Considered one of the largest contemporary museums in the world, Punta della Dogana is sure to captivate any art lover. The museum contains paintings and sculptures that come from the François Pinault Foundation and was originally restored by François Pinault himself.
However, the location of the museum is also worth noting! It’s located in the Dogana da Mar, which is at the tip of the island where the Grand Canal intersects with the Giudecca Canal.
Combine Punta della Dogana with the Ca’ Pesaro for a complete modern art tour of Venice!
One of Italy’s most famous playwrights resided right here in Venice. Of course, we’re talking about Carlo Goldoni! The playwright was born in 1707, in the same spot where the museum stands today!
Inside the museum, you’ll find different manuscripts and objects related to Goldoni’s different plays, as well as artifacts from his life and his home. Don’t miss the puppet theater on the first floor, where you can see beautifully crafted Venetian puppets.
Situated on the bustling Grand Canal stands the Museo di Storia Naturale di, Venezia. Founded in 1923, this natural history museum contains a shockingly impressive 2 million objects in its collection.
Most of the items come from the surrounding region of Venice, and cover a wide variety of topics such as botany, zoology, earth science, and mycology! Kids will also love the hands-on education exhibits. The museum also has an on-site library, which contains over 40,000 books!
If you want to see the glamorous side of Venice, head to the Palazzo Mocenigo in Santa Croce. It’s a rare glimpse into the extravagant lives of 17th and 18th-century Venetian nobility. Most of their wealth can be seen in the details of their lavish outfits, which are on display.
The attention is in the details, and many of the outfits are adorned in delicate lace, hand-sewn embroidery, and rare fabrics. There’s also an on-site library where you can learn about the history of Venetian costumes and fashion.
Ask as many questions as you’d like by taking a private guided tour of Palazzo Mocenigo!
With so many rivers and canals running through Venice, it’s no surprise that the city has an elaborate navel museum! At Museo Storico Navale di Venezia, you can learn all about Venice’s rich maritime heritage and seafaring past.
In fact, there are over 42 exhibition rooms in the museum! However, the main attraction is the Ships Pavilion, which houses several large scale ships that will make your jaw drop!
Combine your visit of the Ships Pavilion with a walking tour of the Castello neighborhood.
Venice’s MUST DO activities! Check out our guide about the AMAZING tours in Venice!
Museo della Musica is not your average music museum. This 18th-century workshop is dedicated to the fine art of making stringed musical instruments! The pristine craftsmanship is clearly evident through the violins, violas, and cellos that are on display.
Located in the Church of San Maurizio, you’ll see instruments crafted by Amati, Guadagnini, and even Goffriller. See these 400-year-old instruments and how they have evolved into present-day designs here at Museo della Musica!
Italian artist Emilio Vedova might have been born here in Venice, but he’s an international sensation that had stunning exhibits all over the world. At Fondazione Emilio e Annabianca Vedova, you’ll see paintings not only from Vedova himself but also from multiple emerging and established artists.
The location of the museum is also steeped in history. Vedova saved the industrial building from demolition in the 1970s, before converting into a studio and workspace.
Located inside the stunning San Marco Basilica is the Museo di San Marco. Although the museum contains colorful mosaics, fine jewelry, and religious artifacts, the main attraction is by far the bronze horses!
The horse statues used to be outside the basilica and must be seen in person to understand their full beauty. After touring the museum, head outside to the outdoor terrace. It boasts some of the best panoramic views of San Marco square!
Nestled next to the Chabad of Venice (the old Synagogue) stands Museo Ebraico di Venezia. This museum was created by the Jewish Community of Venice and is dedicated to Jewish traditions and life in Italy.
The first room of the museum shows different religious artifacts including Menorahs, Seder plates, jeweled crowns, and reading scrolls. The second room of the museum is more focused on the history of Jewish civilians that lived in Venice.
Palazzo Cini was the original residence of Vittorio Cini, one of Italy’s finest industrialists of the 20th century. It was converted into a museum and includes many art pieces from Cini’s private collection.
Most notably, you’ll find his collection of Tuscan paintings and sculptures that date back to the 13th century. Cini was an incredibly wealthy man, which is evident through the elegant rugs, decadent glass pieces, and glimmery bronze statues that are also inside the palace.
Dive deeper into Palazzo Cini with a video guided tour of the museum!
Located on the island of Torcello, Museo Provinciale di Torcello will give you a holistic view of Venetian art and history. The museum is split into two different sections. The Archaeological section contains relics and artifacts found in Venice dating all the way back to the Palaeolithic period.
The Medieval and Modern section is more focused on the last 900 years of Venetian history and contains documents and antique statues. Although the museum itself is small, it’s historical presence is quite grand!
Visit Torcello Island on a combined island tour of Venice! You’ll also have the opportunity to visit Burano and Murano.
For some of the grandest statues in Venice, stop by Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Venezia right on Piazza San Marco! Built in 1523, the museum contains many ancient artifacts that date back to the 1st century BC. You’ll find marble sculptures, rare gems, and handcrafted ceramics that were discovered from all over the world.
However, the most impressive collection in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Venezia are the Roman and Greek marble statues, which tower high above the museum grounds.
How many museums are in Venice?
There are more than enough museums to keep you occupied during your vacation in Venice! You’ll find a fair share of art museums considering Venice was a prominent setting for some of Italy’s largest art movements (especially the Renaissance). However, there are also history, music, and science museums in Venice.
How many free museums are in Venice?
While there are very few free museums in Venice, you can still visit some of the city’s top attractions for an affordable price. All government-run museums are also free during the first Sunday of the month. It’s best to arrive early during free admission days, as the lines can be several hours long.
What are the hours of the museums in Venice?
Most museums in Venice open between 8 or 9 in the morning and close between 7 or 8 in the evening. While some museums are open 7 days a week, it’s not uncommon for some to be closed on Monday or Tuesday. Check the website of your preferred museum for exact hours.
What can I bring in Venice Museums?
While photography is usually allowed in Venice Museums, you may be prohibited from using flash, tripods, or selfie sticks. There are some museums that don’t allow large backpacks or suitcases. When visiting religious monuments or churches, make sure to dress appropriately. That means not exposing your shoulders or legs!
Venice is one of those cities that steals your breath from the moment you arrive. From the narrow, cobblestone alleys to the carved, arched bridges, Venice is overflowing with beauty and culture around every corner. Most visitors will agree that it’s a city that leaves an everlasting and unforgettable imprint.
Although you could easily spend an entire vacation simply wandering the streets, you’ll want to visit Venice’s museums to fully appreciate its history. And with dozens of museums to choose from, we’re sure that you’ll find something that sparks your interest. From marble sculptures and ancient artifacts to grandiose palaces and lavish theaters, Venice has it all!
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Born in Los Angeles, Aaron Hovanesian is one of the original staff writers for Hotel Jules. Having backpacked the world as a young man, Aaron now prefers to travel the world in luxury, proudly staying in the world's most amazing hotels and properties. When Aaron is not traveling he lives in Western Colorado he can be found brewing his own beer (probably an IPA) or spending time with his two amazing golden retrievers.