Visiting the Museum of Glass, Murano
No trip to Venice would be complete without a visit to Murano and the Glass Museum, why there is even a boat stop named for it, “Museo”. It has been closed for renovations, but just reopened and now with more exhibits from their warehouse of glass objects and more rooms open to the public.
It houses archaeological glass from the the 2nd century from the Zara, (now Croatia – but then part of the Venetian empire). But the most famous is piece is the “Barovier wedding cup”, which dates from around 1450, by Angelo Barovier. It is made of beautiful blue glass with enamel and golden decorations.It is perhaps the most precious, and certainly the most famous object of the Renaissance glass master-pieces. The family dynasties who help build the glass industry in Murano: Franchini, Nason, Salviati, Barovier, Venini, Seguso & Toso, Barbarini, many of whom still operate furnaces on the islands are also represented.
The view of the courtyard – even it looks on the walls of an old factory.
The Building – A Palazzo No Less!
Take a moment to look at the building. It is a magnificant palazzo originally built for an important family and became home to Bishop Marco Giustinian from the wealthy Venetian family who bought it and lived there while he was Bishop of Torcello. He later donated it to the the Torcello diocese. It became the home of the Museum of Glass through the vision of a Murano Abbot, Vincenzo Zanetti, who worked to archive the history of the glass industry.
Abate Vicenzo Zanetti’s Vision
The museum which is now part of the Civic Museums of Venice was the vision of Abate Vicenzo Zanetti who worked as an apprentice at a factory of glass beads where his father was the master. But his future was not in the furnaces, he went into the priesthood, and devoted himself to the studies on the history of the island and the glass industry. The museum was created in 1860 and Zanetti remained director until his death. While the museum is important documenting the history of glass, the stories of the Muranese furnaces, probably his largest contribution to the island was the establishment of a school of design for the art of glassmaking.
Abate Zanetti School of Glass
While his original intent was to teach design skills to the glass blowers of Murano, it grew into much more and there is still a school on Murano teaching glassblowing to students who arrive from the far corners of the globe, Abate Zanetti, School of Glass. Now instructors are not only Muranese, but they too come from all the centers of glass working.
Murano, the Glass Island
The island of Murano has a long history in glass, with the first furnaces dating from the 1291 when the Doge sent the glass makers off to Murano. Among the legends as to why the furnaces were moved is that it was in response to a devastating fire in Venice or others believe that it was to protect the secrets of how to make the glass. Whatever the reason, glass thrived on the island of Murano and it’s hardy people. The glass blowers were granted many privileges by the Doges. And they went on to make the glass of the royals of the world and especially for the Doges of Venice as seen in the examples here created by Giuseppe Briati.
The museum gift shop has many good books on the glass of Murano, most by local authors, whose knowledge of the glass comes from their ancesters, like Rosa Barovier Mentasti from the famous Barovier family. There’s no need to shop for Murano Glass in the Museum Gift Shop…there’s plenty of that in every shop.
Google Art Project – Museo del Vetro
And if you can’t make it to Murano to visit the Museum, you can still get a glimpse as Google has uploaded 54 high resolution images of some of the most famous pieces on exhibit. So even if you can’t get to Murano, you can still enjoy the works of these incredible people
Tickets to the Museum: How to Buy, How to Save Money & Time
Tickets are 10 Euro. I have seen some comments that this is too much for the museum. So here’s my tip, buy the Museum Pass you get the Palazzo Ducale and 10 other Museums in Venice and the cost is 24 Euro. It will keep you from standing in lines and if you see 3 of them, looks like you are ahead of the game. They are valid for 6 months from the purchase date. You can buy online at www.visitmuve.it (Do expect a little time processing your ticket on your first museum. After that you’re good to go.)
THE MUSEUMS OF ST MARK’S SQUARE
- Doge’s Palace
- Museo Correr
- Museo Archeologico Nazionale
- Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
OTHER CIVIC MUSEUMS OF VENICE
- Ca’ Rezzonico – Museum of 18th-Century Art
- Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo
- Carlo Goldoni’s House
- Ca’ Pesaro, Internazional Galleryof Modern Art + Oriental Art Museum
- Glass Museum – Murano
- Lace Museum – Burano
- Museum of Natural History