Ah, Venice – the city that elicits a shiver of excitement from deep within. Nothing speaks more to this feeling than a visit to one of its many internationally renowned museums and art galleries housing centuries-old artifacts and awe-inspiring works of art.
To get the most out of your stay in La Serenissima, allow us to guide you in discovering some of the best cultural attractions this part of Italy offers: the top 10 must-see museums and art galleries in Venice! Get ready for a fascinating journey through time as we explore exciting history; works by master painters like Giorgione, Titian, and Tintoretto—all while taking in breathtaking views along the romantic canals.
Table of Contents:
- Top 10 Venice Museums
- Gallerie dell’Accademia
- Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale)
- Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art
- Peggy Guggenheim Collection
- Museo Storico Navale di Venezia
- Punta della Dogana – Pinault Collection
- Museo della Musica
- Museo Correr
- Murano Glass Museum
- Museo del Merletto
- Leonardo da Vinci Museum
- Natural History Museum (Museo di Storia Naturale)
- Are Museums in Venice Free?
- Is It Worth Buying a Museum Pass in Venice?
Top 10 Venice Museums
From iconic monuments to bustling districts and renowned museums, Venice is a city of endless wonder. Since Venice is so small (you can reasonably walk from one side to the other in about one hour), most people think there isn’t much to the city outside of the main tourist areas. Our most popular guide on this site is how to visit Venice in a day; however, doing so means you miss out on tons of Venetian gems.
In this list, we’ve selected the top history and art museums in Venice so that you can find all the best ones easily!
Gallerie dell’Accademia is a pre-19th century Venetian Renaissance goldmine.
The collection houses work from the Middle Ages to the 18th century and consist primarily of painters from Venice or the Veneto region. Nearly every important painter from the era is spread among sprawling rooms, each better than the last.
The gallery houses paintings by Renaissance masters such as:
- Titian (Pieta)
- Canaletto (Perspective View with Portico)
- Bellini (Madonna and Child)
- Bosch (The Saint Liberata Triptych)
- Tiepolo (Saint Cajetan’s Vision of the Holy Family)
- Veronese (The Feast in the House of Levi)
- Hayez (Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem)
Many of the oil paintings are religious masterworks that have been beautifully restored and presented to viewers. It’s awe-inspiring to see in person, but thankfully Gallerie dell’Accademia uploads their collection online for you to read about if you can’t make it in person.
Some of my favorite paintings are the historically-rich depictions of Venice’s unrestrained vibrancy from its days as a trade capital. These pieces provide an exhilarating glimpse into one of history’s most colorful cities!
Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale)
One of Venice’s oldest buildings, Palazzo Ducale is an ornate gothic palace amongst awe-inspiring Saint Mark’s Square. It served as the political center of Venice and residence to its Doges from the 14th century until 1818.
Remodeled and extended throughout time, this collection of magnificent structures is a masterful example of decadent beauty. The Doge’s Palace is now a museum that offers access to grand ballrooms, lavish apartments formerly occupied by Doges’, a glorious internal courtyard, and what used to be prisons!
Our family joined an exclusive after-hours small group tour of Doge’s Palace and learned about its Armory, Hall of the Great Council, Bridge of Sighs, as well as some notorious prisoners, such as Casanova.
Our knowledgeable guide artfully recounted stories and secrets from the Venetian Republic. If you’re planning on visiting Doge’s Palace, I recommend taking a tour with a guide.
Notable Sights within Doge’s Palace:
- Giants Staircase
- Chamber of Torment
- Doge’s Apartment
- Museo Dell’Opera
- Golden Staircase
Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art
The Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art, a magnificent waterfront marble palace in Santa Croce, houses an extensive and impressive collection of modern Italian art from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Built in the 17th century by the Pesaro family, this building is constructed in baroque architecture and is worth a visit alone. Marvel in the picturesque architecture, which still contains original frescoes and interior decoration.
This remarkable collection has been meticulously curated to include masterpieces by some of the most influential artists of their day.
Also situated in the beautiful Ca’ Pesaro palace is the Oriental Art Museum (Museo d’Arte Orientale). This beautiful museum boasts an exceptional collection of Asian art, including ceramics, textiles, and sculptures from Japan, China, and Indonesia. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the rich artistic traditions of the East.
Notable Art and Artists in Ca’ Pesaro International Gallery:
- Gustav Klimt (Giuditta II)
- Pierre Bonnard (Nude in a Mirror)
- Giorgio di Chirico (Troubadour)
- Wassily Kandinsky (White Zig Zacs)
- Umberto Boccioni (Portrait of My Sister Reading)
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is one of the best museums in Venice and came in at number nine on our list of the best things to do in Venice.
This Venier Palazzo is located on the Grand Canal and was once the home of eccentric gallerist and avid art collector Peggy Guggenheim. It very much still feels lived in as the story of Peggy is interwoven throughout the exhibition spaces. You can even visit her grave in the sculpture garden, where she is buried alongside her beloved dogs.
Notable Art and Artists in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection:
- Jackson Pollock (The Moon Woman and Enchanted Forest)
- Pablo Picasso (On the Beach and The Studio)
- Paul Klee (Portrait of Frau P. in the South)
- Salvador Dalí (Birth of Liquid Desires)
- Giorgio de Chirico (The Red Tower)
Despite lacking Venetian artwork, this gallery is home to some of the world’s most exquisite early 20th-century masterpieces. Even if you’re not a big fan of contemporary art, it’s a stunning modern art museum that you should visit at least once.
Museo Storico Navale di Venezia
Not only is Museo Storico Navale di Venezia a paradise for naval and maritime fanatics, but it’s also very accessible to anyone intrigued by Venetian history. I’m not overly interested in boats, but I found the naval history museum a nice change of pace from the others on this list.
The Museum, housed inside a 16th-century oars workshop, showcases 42 exhibition rooms that reveal how Venice’s waterways shape the city’s identity and history.
While maritime enthusiasts can get a few hours out of the museum, we cruised through it in about an hour. If you’re looking for a museum that doesn’t generate much foot traffic, this is the one for you. In our Venice in a Day guide, we recommended it for people searching for off-the-beaten-path locations in Venice.
Notable Attractions in the Museum:
- The oldest galley of the Venetian fleet
- The Secca della Giudecca, a historical marker used to separate Venetian waters from international ones
- Hand-crafted model ships from the 16th– 19th centuries
- Original naval paintings, photographs, and maps
- Peggy Guggenheim’s opulent gondola
Punta della Dogana – Pinault Collection
François Pinault is the quintessential ambitious entrepreneur. His path to success began with a job cutting down trees for his father, which evolved into an incredibly successful timber trading business. Today, Pinault stands as one of the top art collectors worldwide – specifically when it comes to contemporary art and modern Italian art.
The acclaimed Pinault Collection encompasses two impressive museums in the city of Venice: Palazzo Grassi, located near Accademia bridge, and Punta Della Dogana — formerly a customs house situated at the tip of Dorsoduro.
We are focusing on Punta Della Dogana for two reasons: it’s a more impressive collection, and its location offers fantastic views of the Adriatic Sea.
Similar to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Pinault Collection is focused on modern art. While it’s not everyone’s favorite style, it’s fun to explore the museum. Plus, it’s a nice walk to an underappreciated area of Venice.
Ca’Rezzonico is one of the best museums in the city and a great example of how Venice used to look like. This 18th-century palace, located on the Grand Canal, has preserved much of its original interior design and many of its artifacts. These items range from Venetian sculptures to furniture, paintings, and tapestries from the 17th and 18th centuries.
My absolute favorite area of Ca’ Rezzonico is the ‘Portego’, a gallery designed by Giorgio Massari, which overlooks the Grand Canal. The ceiling frescoes depict scenes from Venetian mythology. I highly recommend coming here for an hour or two and taking in the beauty of Venice’s past.
The second level of the museum is a tribute to renowned painters Pietro Longhi and Giandomenico Tiepolo, while the third floor houses an exact copy of an 18th-century pharmacy.
In addition to its art collection, the museum offers a few interactive experiences, such as a multimedia guide and an audio tour.
Notable Art and Artists at Ca’Rezzonico
- Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (Mondo Novo)
- Pietro Longhi (Alchemists)
- Antonio Corradini (Veiled Woman)
- Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Nuptial Allegory)
- Anton Raphael Mengs (Portrait of Pope Clement XIII)
Museo della Musica
Venice has always been an integral part of the music world, and at Museo della Musica one can immerse themselves in its history. This museum houses a collection of instruments from the 15th to 20th centuries that were used by some of Italy’s most renowned composers.
The collection includes early versions of the organ, guitar, and piano—all of which are still used today. There are also a few rare items in the collection like an armonica (a glass instrument popularized by Mozart), as well as a 17th-century mandolin.
The museum also features exhibits that allow visitors to explore how music has evolved over the centuries while listening to music by composers like Amati, Guadagnini, and Goffriller. The experience is both educational and entertaining.
If you’re looking to get your fix of Venice’s artistic side, then Museo della Musica should definitely be included on your list. It’s a great place to learn about Venice’s musical past while enjoying its present beauty.
Close to St. Mark’s square and the rialto bridge, lies one of Venice’s best museums: Museo Correr. It was established in 1830 when Teodoro Correr donated his collection of ancient artwork, books, and antiques to the city.
The museum is comprised of two main sections: an art gallery with works from 19th-century Venice and a historical section. The latter houses artifacts from the city’s past, including manuscripts, maps, porcelain, and furniture.
The highlight of Museo Correr is its collection of Venetian paintings from the 17th to 19th centuries. Works by Tiepolo, Canaletto, and Bellotto are featured throughout the galleries, offering an insight into Venice’s rich art history.
The museum also houses a collection of armor and weapons from the 16th to 18th centuries, as well as a gallery dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte’s visit to Venice in 1797.
Notable Art and Artists at Museo Correr:
- Vittore Carpaccio (Two Venetian Ladies)
- Antonio Canova (Orfeo)
- Giovanni Bellini (Dead Christ Supported by Two Angels)
- Gentile Bellini (Portrait of the Doge Giovanni Mocenigo)
Murano Glass Museum
Murano Glass Museum is a unique destination that you have to see while visiting Venice. This museum showcases Murano’s centuries-old glassmaking tradition, with a collection of over 7,000 pieces from the Middle Ages to modern times.
The exhibits range from everyday household items like dishes and vases to elaborate sculptures created by master craftsmen. Some of the most impressive pieces in the museum are colorful glass chandeliers and religious sculptures, many of which are over 500 years old.
The Murano Glass Museum also offers visitors an opportunity to learn about the history and techniques used in Venetian glassmaking. Through its educational programs, visitors can see demonstrations of the craftsmanship that goes into creating these works of art.
Notable Art and Artists at Murano Glass Museum:
- Angelo Barovier (Coppa Barovier)
- Napoleone Martinuzzi (Vaso a nove bocche verde)
- Vittorio Zecchin (Lastrina Barbaro)
Museo del Merletto
If you’re looking for a truly unique museum experience, then Museo del Merletto is the place to go. This museum is within the Burano Lace school that operated from 1872 to 1970 to teach Venetians how to create world-class clothing, decorations, and more from this fragile material.
Today, the museum showcases Venice’s centuries-old lace-making traditions through its collection of antique and modern lace pieces.
The exhibit includes a variety of materials used in the creation of lace, such as silk, linen, and cotton. It also showcases the tools used by lace-makers and the intricate patterns they create with them.
The museum provides visitors with an in-depth exploration of this traditional craft, including its history and importance to Venice’s culture. It is home to some of the oldest surviving pieces of Venetian lace, as well as modern creations demonstrating the skill and artistry of contemporary lace-makers.
Leonardo da Vinci Museum
The Leonardo da Vinci Museum, dedicated to the life and work of the legendary Renaissance artist and inventor, showcases an engaging collection of interactive exhibits, models, and reproductions of da Vinci’s inventions. The museum offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the genius of Leonardo da Vinci in an interactive and educational setting.
Natural History Museum (Museo di Storia Naturale)
Venice’s Natural History Museum, located in the historic Fondaco dei Turchi, houses a fascinating collection of natural specimens, including fossils, minerals, and preserved animals. Due to all of the art in the city, this is one of the lesser visited museums in Venice. For those that go, it offers a captivating journey through the natural world from prehistoric times to the present day.
Are Museums in Venice Free?
No, most museums in Venice charge a small fee that is used for building upkeep and other normal operational fees. That said, some museums offer free entry on certain days or times. Be sure to research the museum you plan to visit in advance so that you can plan accordingly. Also, some museums offer discounts to students as well as senior citizens. It is always best to check in advance for possible discounts.
Is It Worth Buying a Museum Pass in Venice?
Yes, if you plan on visiting multiple museums in Venice, then buying a museum pass can save you money. The passes often include admission to some of the most popular museums and galleries in Venice and discounts for other attractions around the city. This is an ideal option for anyone looking to explore more than one museum during their visit.
If you’re an art lover, there’s no better place to be than Venice. With its centuries-old tradition of excellence in the arts, the city boasts some of the best museums and galleries in the world. In this article, we’ve given you a guide to the best of the best, so you can make the most of your time in Venice. Whether you’re interested in world famous masterpieces or contemporary glass sculptures, there’s something for everyone.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore! And let us know in the comments below which is your favorite Venetian museum.