Grimani Palace in Santa Maria Formosa is one of the most surprising and unusual museums in Venice. This beautiful Renaissance palace, now Museum of the Veneto Museum Pole, in the sixteenth century was already both a house and a museum famous throughout Europe for its marbles, stuccoes and frescoes as well as for its rich collection of antiquities. In 1573, King Henry III of France was one of the first visitors to the palace; then, between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, the Grimani family’s house was part of the usual Grand Tour destinations. The residence of the doge Antonio Grimani was expanded and finished during the sixteenth century, and his nephew Giovanni, Patriarch of Aquileia, and his brother Vettore, Attorney of San Marco, completed its design and decoration.
In 1587, Giovanni Grimani donated the entire collection of antiquities to the Serenissima, which gave birth to the first nucleus of the National Archaeological Museum of Venice, where it is still on display today. Some pieces from the Giovanni collection can be still admired in their original location at Grimani Palace: one of these pieces is the extremely well-photographed statue called Ratto di Ganimede, a Roman replica of a late Hellenistic model, hanging in the center of the Tribuna, a room that once hosted over a hundred statues, which are the finest of the collection.
All the areas of the palace have wonders: the large courtyard, whose lodges were adorned with classical statues, is unique in Venice, inspired by the ancient Roman domus and the cultural climate of the Renaissance, and the monumental staircase could compete for magnificence with the Scala d’Oro of Palazzo Ducale and with that one of the Marciana Library, both of which are known to be the most magnificent throughout Venice. Visiting the other rooms, you are surrounded by extraordinary paintings of mythological scenes, trompe-l’oeil, rare marbles, stucco decorations and allegorical frescoes. Surprising is the Sala a Fogliami, where you have the impression of being taken into a green garden: the ceiling is entirely covered with fruit trees, flowers and birds. You can also recognize plant species coming from the New World, which at that time were recently discovered, such as tobacco and corn.
This year the Grimani Palace Museum can be visited for free on the first Sunday of the month from October to March, on the Museum Week until 10th March, on 12th March, on 19th March (Father’s Day), on 22nd March, on 25th April, on 22nd June (Venice ArtNight), on 26th September, on 21st November and on 13th December. From May 2019, the ancient glory of Grimani Palace lives again with the outstanding exhibition called Domus Grimani 1594 – 2019, which celebrates the return after more than 430 years in its original location of the classical statues collection, which belonged to Giovanni Grimani.