Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Venezia

The Museo Archeologico, in St. Mark’s Square, houses an important collection of ancient sculptures including some notable Greek originals : there are also bronzes, pottery, gems and coins, besides the archeological collection lodged in the Civico Museo Correr which includes Egyptian and Assiro-Babilonian artifacts.
Being composed of some works collected by some eminent venetian families from the 16th century, the Museum presents a marked character of a private collection in its very formation. In fact the Museum had its origins from the legacy of cardinal Domenico Grimani who, at his death, in 1523, left the main part of his collection to the Signoria. In 1586 Giovanni Grimani left his own remarkable collection of ancient marbles including also Greek originals to the Serenissima Repubblica on condition that they found a worthy and definitive location in a suitable environment. Such an environment was found in the Antechamber of Sansovino’s St. Mark’s Library. The task of arranging and laying-out the antechamber was entrusted to Scamozzi but Giovanni Grimani’s taste is evident in the intervention. The work was completed in 1596 (see photo below)
In the new Statuario Comunale 200 marbles were housed.
The Statuary, typical expression of Renaissance taste, remained unchanged until 1616, then the other collections were added, like those of Giovanni Mocenigo and Jacopo Contarini (1714).
The further gifts - Dondi dell’Orologio, Monastero of San Giovanni of Verdara in Padua suppressed in 1784, Zulian 1795 - together with the sculptures bought through the interest of Antonio Canova created problems of space so that a project was laid out to house the collection in the rooms of the Procuratie Nuove. The project remained in outline because, by order of Eugenio di Beauharnais, viceroy of Italy, the Museum with the Biblioteca Marciana was transferred to the Doge’s Palace in 1812 with the consequent dismemberment of the statuario. The marbles, to which the legacies of Molin and Weber were added in the 19th century, remained dispersed about the palace as decorative items, and were finally gathered together again in 1846 in the Doge’s apartment.
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