On my way back home from a weekend in Venice, I think it is the perfect time to write about this city. I was in Venice for the Arte Laguna Prize opening ceremony, an award for emerging contemporary artists, but managed to squeeze in a couple of visits to some of my favorite places.  

It was my first time in Venice around this time of the year, and I have to say it is possibly the best season to visit this city. The weather was glorious, it was not too packed, and walking around Venice’s narrow streets and bridges was a real blast. 

But, speaking about contemporary art, we all think of the Biennale as the first and major event in Venice. And, as I said in a previous post, it definitely is. In fact, if I have to be honest, all my previous trips to Venice occurred because of the Art Biennale. But Venice has far more to offer, beyond the Art and Architecture Biennales (yes, there are 2 separate Biennales!). 

Contemporary art in Venice beyond the Biennale

With a long history of local and international collectors choosing Venice as their hometown, the city has an incredible number of private collections. Over the years, some of the most important personalities linked to the contemporary art world have opened exhibition spaces in the Laguna, making it one of the most famous destinations in Italy not just for the incomparable beauty of the city itself, but also for its contemporary art offer. 

And since the 2022 Venice Biennale is just around the corner, and you might be planning a trip there soon, I decided to put together a brief guide to 3 magical places for contemporary art in Venice. And when I say magical, I mean it. They all have in common stunning locations, amazing views of the city, and grandiose architecture. 

Ready for the tour? 

contemporary art venice - Fondazione Prada
Ca’ Corner della Regina | Photo: Agostino Osio | Courtesy Fondazione Prada

Fondazione Prada

I have spoken at length about the Fondazione Prada in Milan, but they actually have another location in Venice that is equally as stunning. Much smaller than the Milanese headquarters, the Fondazione Prada in Venice is hosted inside Ca’ Corner della Regina, a beautiful Venetian-style palace built between 1724 and 1728. The palazzo overlooks the Canal Grande and its first floor is entirely decorated with original frescoes and stuccos. The Fondazione Prada moved here in 2011, and since then it has been using it as its primary exhibition space in Venice.

Needless to say, the quality of the exhibitions and projects here is extremely high, with the foundation working with some of the best contemporary artists. What I particularly like about this space is its location though. The palace is almost entirely preserved, and the visit is equally as interesting for the exhibitions as well as for the palace itself. 

After walking inside, you will find yourself in the former main entrance, with a big window facing the water and a double staircase introducing you to the upper floors. Here you will find original decorations and contemporary artworks blending and mixing together in a unique experience. 

Definitely worth a visit while in Venice, especially if you looking for high-quality exhibitions in an unusual setting. Plus, it is conveniently located near Rialto and easily accessible, so double win! 

Fondazione Prada Venezia
Calle Corner, 2215, 30135 Venezia VE

Info, tickets and opening hours:

Collezione Peggy Guggenheim

Directly facing the Grand Canal, in the Dorsoduro area of Venice, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is yet another magical spot for contemporary in Venice you really need to visit. Just to give you some context, the collection is housed in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, an 18th-century palace, once the home of the American heiress Peggy Guggenheim. 

Peggy Guggenheim needs no introduction, as she was not only one of the best and most famous collectors of the last century, but also a great patron and friend with some of the most important artists in modern history (and wife of Max Ernst). 

She started displaying her collection in Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in Venice in 1951, and after her death in 1979 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation acquired the palace and opened it to the public. The collection is rather impressive, and hosts mainly modern art from the 1930s and 40s, with a great number of works from Italian Futurists, as well as Cubism, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism. There is not a lot of space for more recent, contemporary art in this collection, but the location is just stunning and the history behind this palace and its artworks is beyond impressive. 

Bear in mind that, for these exact same reasons, this is one of the most visited destinations in Venice, so get ready to queue (or just book in advance). I would suggest going in the morning, right when it opens, as it tends to be less packed. In any case, prepare to marvel at the collection, completely in awe while walking down the corridors of this magnificent palace, feeling a little bit like one of Peggy’s guests. 

Collezione Peggy Guggenheim 
Dorsoduro, 701-704, 30123 Venezia

Info, tickets and opening hours: guggenheim-venice.it

Punta della Dogana | Photo: Sébastien Bertrand

Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana 

Ok, I know I am cheating a little bit with this one, as it has a double location. But believe me when I tell you, they are both well worth the visit! 

First of all, you only need one ticket to visit both locations, making it not just easy but even cheap to enjoy their exhibitions. Secondly, they are not distant one from the other, and the walk is rather enjoyable. Moreover, you will swing by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection while going from Palazzo Grassi to Punta della Dogana, making it a convenient itinerary for a (very) full day of contemporary art in Venice. Last but not least, both locations are beyond impressive, especially Punta della Dogana. 

Punta della Dogana

This is literally the very last piece of land of the Dorsoduro area, where the Grand Canal meets the Giudecca Canal. Its triangular shape, facing the sea and overlooking both San Marco and the Giudecca island, was restored by Tadao Ando in 2009, thanks to the collector and French billionaire François Pinault. The city of Venice has an agreement with the Pinault’s Collection, which can use this magnificent building to host its exhibitions. Make sure to go up to the last floor and go out on the terrace. It is the best view of Venice in my opinion, especially if it is clear and you can embrace the whole southwest part of the city shining under the sun. 

Palazzo Grassi

On the contrary, Palazzo Grassi is a magnificent Venetian Palace, a little more secluded facing Campo San Samuele and the Grand Canal, but just a few steps away from the Ponte dell’Accademia. Just like the Prada Foundation, it has beautiful decorations in the typical Venetian style, and it hosts great exhibitions. 

Both locations balance each other, with Punta della Dogana being more minimalist both in its architecture and the exhibitions, while Palazzo Grassi is a more classical venue. Needless to say, the quality of their offer is beyond amazing. So much so, that if you only have a low budget or just a few hours, I would definitely suggest visiting these two locations over everything else in Venice. 

Should I say more?

Palazzo Grassi 
Campo San Samuele, 3231, 30124 Venezia VE

Punta della Dogana 
Dorsoduro, 2, 30123 Venezia VE

Info, tickets and opening hours: