A host of little-visited but interesting museums and galleries are hidden around town, each with curious exhibits that shed light on the story of this magnificent city. On entering the Palazzo Querini Stampalia Museum, you are transported back to the 1700s for a glimpse of life in a Venetian palace of that period. Beautifully furnished rooms are decorated with rich fabrics, fine porcelain, famous Murano glass, and period paintings by illustrious artists such as Longhi and Bellini.
The Naval History Museum (Museo Storico Navale) near the Arsenale has displays of ancient watercraft, which provide an excellent overview of life and work in Venice prior to the arrival of motor- powered boats. One highlight here is the replica of the Bucintoro ceremonial barge that had pride of place in the Sposalizio del Mare rituals symbolizing Venice “marrying” the sea – the original was put to the flames by Napoleon. Not to be missed is the Pavilion of Boats (Padiglione delle Navi), with a royal vessel complete with decorated oars and naval craft employed during World War II.
On Murano, the dusty old bishops’ residence, Palazzo Giustiniani, now the Glass Museum (Museo del Vetro), is a treasure trove of priceless, fragile pieces of exquisite craftsmanship. One of the many highlights is a gigantic candelabra composed of 356 handmade pieces, weighing over 660 lbs (300 kg). Explanations of glass-working techniques covering beads, millefiori, mirrors, and blowing accompany the visit. A ferry trip away, Burano has a showcase museum, Museo del Merletto, with exhibits that display the ancient art of lace-making, believed to derive from a magical veil of foam which was dreamed up by a fisherman.
Museo del Merletto Piazza Galuppi 187, Burano;
Museo Storico Navale Riva S Biasio, Castello;
Museo del Vetro Fondamenta Giustinian 8, Murano;
Palazzo Querini Stampalia Castello 5252;