Fondazione Querini Stampalia – Venice Museum & Library
Fondazione Querini Stampalia
Fondazione Querini Stampalia. A few steps from Piazza San Marco, in Campo Santa Maria Formosa: one of the most interesting artistic complexes of Venice: Palazzo Querini Stampalia.
Fondazione Querini Stampalia is a separate universe within the city of Venice. It is a building which can be visited as a museum, but which you can also access as a user of the library, located inside it.
This is also a space in Venice constantly hosting contemporary art exhibitions.
Basically Palazzo Querini Stampalia is an authentic “culture factory”. Although it is secluded from the classic routes which take tourists to Venice, it continued for years to work with large-known architects and artists, leaving its own little imprint on the lives of the people who visited it.
History of Fondazione Querini Stampalia
According to the heraldic tradition, the Querinis have very ancient origins.
The branch that lived in Santa Maria Formosa was known orginally by the nickname of “Zii”, because of the lilies that were portrayed in their coat of arms. Later, to avoid confusion with the other numerous branches, the family identified itself by adding to the family name that of “Stampalia”, taking it from the feudal possession of the homonym Aegean island.
A document of 1514 gives an account of a significant extension of the palace commissioned by Nicolò Querini for the construction of the new building.
The growing prestige of the Querini family in the first decades of the sixteenth century pushed them to make a series of improvements. The choices made over the years manifest the lack of a unified project and emphasize an approach to building by simply adding and merging.
The Palazzo is developed and articulated in time with the annexations of neighbouring properties and with elevations, being divided into apartments and sometimes partially rented.
Count Giovanni, with the testament of 1868, donated the palace to the city.
According to his testament, the library had to be allocated on the first floor, stating also that it had to remain open even when other libraries were closed, especially at night and on holidays.
The original core of the collection was created over the course of more than seven centuries of history of the Querini Stampalia family and includes manuscripts, incunabula, rare printed editions, ancient maps and engravings.
The Library of the Querini Stampalia Foundation is now considered the public library of the Venetian people.
All the family’s paintings, furniture, porcelain, sculptures and art objects were collected on the main floor, allowing to re-arrange and open to the public the historical residence of the noble Venetian family.
The Querini Stampalia Museum is a historic residence, located on the second floor of the 16th century Venetian palace decorated with stucco and frescoes.
It is the site of the Foundation commissioned in 1868 by Count Giovanni, the last descendent of the Querini Stampalias. The Palace is the location where the entire heritage of the ancient Venetian family is kept.
The museum houses one of the richest collections of art of the lagoon city, with over four hundred paintings by Venetian, Italian and Flemish artists from the 14th to the 19th century
The most famous part of the collection is the most extensive pictorial documentary of Venice in the 18th century. One hundred paintings of which thirty are genre scenes by Pietro Longhi and sixty-seven are views by Gabriele Bella.
Querini Stampalia maintains the house-museum character, where the exhibits allow the visitor to enter in a typical scene of 18th century splendor.
The modern collection, of about 300,000 volumes, is general in nature and is increasing constantly.
In the reading rooms, arranged on open shelves, there are over 30,000 reference works and about 400 current periodicals, all directly accessible.
They are a variety of active services: distribution, reproduction, bibliographic information and loan to libraries.
Numerous computer workstations are available to readers for consultation of catalogs and to support study and research activities.
Inside the library, in the first room of the Newspaper Library, there is a fully equipped computer station for the visually impaired and for blind users.
In 1949, the Foundation entrusted the famous architect Carlo Scarpa with the task of rearranging a part of the ground floor and the garden of the Palace. The work will be carried only ten years later and thanks to the direction of Giuseppe Mazzariol, a friend of Scarpa, an art historian, cultural animator and promoter of a vision of Venice enlarged to the best international experiences.
The project was part of an overall restoration in the ground floor of the Palace, which was often flooded with high water. The garden, which in the 1800s was even used as a warehouse, became the central focus of the new exhibition areas.
The restoration by Scarpa was based on a measured combination of new and old elements and a great skill in the use of materials, particularly using water as a central decorative element.
Water enters the building from the canal which the palace overlooks. It passes through partitions running along the interior walls and reaching a deep pool of various copper, concrete and mosaic levels. It also passes through a small canal at the end of which there are two labyrinths carved in alabaster and Istrian stone. On the wall you can see a mosaic of glass tiles of Murano, designed by Mario de Luigi.
The garden is the quintessence of wisdom: it takes an element of weakness and turns it into strength.
Carlo Scarpa did this, in the early sixties, to defend the historic building in Campo Santa Maria Formosa from the acqua alta. Using an opposite and contrary action, by breaking the boundary between external and internal, by just leaving the water to be the architectural element.
The ups and downs of the tide create fluids floors, governed and orchestrated wisely, on which to move following an admirable system of walkways.
The garden alternates new and old elements, which interact with the history of the Palace and enhance each other.
It is a green space that combines modern and historical architecture and welcomes water as a fundamental element in tune with the city in which it resides.
Walking around it seems at one point to be inside a Japanese garden. A tidy and rigorous composition, which seems wanting to convey inner peace.
What to see now
From June 17 to August 21, 2016
Into The Labyrinth – Architetture Veneziane
Don’t miss this new photo exhibition on Venetian architecture, with photographs taken by Riccardo De Cal, a Veneto filmmaker and photographer.
The twenty photographs, organized in setting devised by Melissa Siben, are partly taken from the book Dream of Venice Architecture by the American editor JoAnn Locktov – BFP Publications, for which Riccardo De Cal oversaw the photographic side. (I wrote an article about Dream Of Venice Architecture)
The book contains texts written for the occasion by leading architects, historians, theorists, critics and contemporary designers, who have been confronted in various ways with the city of Venice (Tadao Ando, Enrico Baleri, James Biber, Randy Bosch, Mario Botta, Constantin Boym, Louise Braverman, Vincenzo Casali, Francesco Da Mosto, Cynthia Davidson, Michele De Lucchi, Massimiliano Fuksas, Jonathan Glancey, Richard Goy, Frank Harmon, Guy Horton, Michael Johnson, Shun Kanda, Max Levy, Juergen Mayer H., Robert McCarter, William Menking, Richard Murphy, Louise Noelle, Dial Parrott, Valeriano Pastor, Guido Pietropoli, Carlo Ratti, Witold Rybczynski, Anne-Catrin Schultz, Annabelle Selldorf, tamassociati, Michael Welton, Thomas Woltz, Diana Yakeley, Rocco Yim).
Where to sleep
Venice offers a wide range of accommodation. If you are looking for a budget but still comfortable sleeping arrangement, simply visit Hostelsclub. They offer a wide range of hostels and budget hotels both in Venice city centre and the surrounding areas.
Museum and exhibitions
Tuesday to Sunday, 18.10
Library and newspaper library
Tuesday to Saturday, 10.24
Sundays and holidays 10/19
Tuesday to Sunday 10 / 17:30
Tuesday to Saturday, 10.21
Sundays and holidays 10/19