Here’s a top tip: all State museums in Italy offer free entrance on the first Sunday of each month. There are six State museums in Venice, so be sure to take advantage of this excellent initiative if you’re here on Easter Sunday (1st April).
Accademia Galleries: The world’s greatest treasure trove of Venetian painting, housed in the former Scuola Grande of Santa Maria della Carità. Works range from glittering Byzantine altarpieces to Renaissance masterpieces by Bellini and Bassano, as well as sublime views of 18th century Venice by Canaletto and Guardi.
Oriental Art Museum: A vast collection of Oriental art and artefacts, collected by Prince Henry II of Borbone during his travels to Asian between 1887 – 1889. The museum contains over 30,000 objects including sacred Japanese swords and armour, precious Chinese porcelain and netsuke, Indonesian batik and musical instruments, and much more.
Giorgio Franchetti Galleries at Ca’ D’Oro: One of the most beautiful palaces in Venice, housing a rich collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture and tapestries donated to the State by Baron Giorgio Franchetti in 1916. Highlights include Titian’s Venus with a Mirror, and Mantegna’s San Sebastiano. Don’t forget to step out onto loggia for sensational views over the Grand Canal.
National Marciana Library: One of the largest and most important libraries in Italy, containing one of the greatest holdings of classical texts in the world. The building was designed by Jacopo Sansovino, and decorated by some of the Veneto’s greatest artists including Tintoretto and Veronese.
Palazzo Grimani: A magnificent Renaissance palace that was originally the residence of Doge Antonio Grimani, designed to showcase his extensive collection of Graeco-Roman antiquities. Today most of these are on display in the National Archaeological Museum (see below), but the palace’s dazzling frescoed interiors are certainly reason enough to visit.
National Archaeological Museum: One of Europe’s first public museums dedicated to ancient art, overlooking St Mark’s Square. Its extraordinary collection boasts a large number of important Roman and Greek sculptures, as well as precious gems, coins, cameos and other antiquities drawn from Egypt, Babylonia and beyond.