Overlooking the Grand Canal, housed in a treasure chest of Istrian stone, is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. This, the most important museum in Italy for modern European and American art of the 20th century, was created in Venice by the American heiress Peggy Guggenheim.
Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979) acquired the majority of her works between the years 1938 and 1947, in Europe and in New York, with the advice of friends, artists, and art critics such as Marcel Duchamp, Herbert Read, Nellie van Doesburg and Howard Putzel.
The American patroness exhibited her modern art collection for the first time in Europe at the 1948 Venice Biennale. A year later she purchased Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, an unfinished palazzo of the 18th century, where she would live for 30 years and where her museum is located today.
At an international level, the collection is one of the most important collections of its kind, notable for the quality of its works and for its historic breadth. It includes masterpieces of Cubism, Futurism, Metaphysical painting, European abstraction, Surrealism and American Abstract Expressionism by artists such as Picasso, Brancusi, Pollock, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Miró, de Chirico, Dalí, and Calder.
Peggy Guggenheim herself first opened the museum to the public, in 1951. Since 1980, it has been operated by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, of which it is the Italian branch. Its primary mission is to exhibit Peggy Guggenheim’s collection and to celebrate the life and career of Peggy Guggenheim herself.
In 2012, the Foundation’s holdings in Venice were enriched by 80 works of Italian, European and American post-war art bequeathed by the American collectors Hannelore B. Schulhof and husband Rudolph B. Schulhof. Artists represented in this donation include Dubuffet, Rothko, Stella, Johns, Warhol and many others.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection also exhibits sculptures outdoors in its gardens and on its terraces, by artists such as Marino Marini, Calder, Richier, Moore, and organises remarkable temporary exhibitions, dedicated primarily to masters of the twentieth century.
The collection of Peggy Guggenheim, her life and the story of the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, the temporary exhibitions, the Schulhof and Mattioli Collections, are all subjects of daily guided tours and short lectures, in Italian and English, offered to the public without charge. The museum is open to visitors every day, on a daily schedule, without reservations.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Opening time and admission charges
Open daily: 10 am – 6pm. Closed Tuesdays and December 25.
Admission charges: €15; €13 for visitors over 65 years; €9 students; free 0-10 years
Services: Peggy Guggenheim Café, Museum Shops, Audio guide
Guided tours daily (except Tuesdays): 11am, 12noon, 4pm, 5pm and 3:30pm with tours of temporary exhibitions.
This article was in partnership with Guggenheim Venice
Featured image: Ph. Matteo de Fina