Gallerie dell’Accademia - History and Facts | History Hit

Gallerie dell’Accademia

Amy Irvine

12 May 2023
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Mongolo1984 / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Legitimate use for study

About Gallerie dell’Accademia

Located on the south bank of the Grand Canal within the sestiere of Dorsoduro, the sprawling Gallerie dell’Accademia is one of the most important museums in Venice. It is home to an incredible collection of over 500 works of 15th to 18th century Venetian art, from the Byzantine and Gothic periods to Renaissance, Baroque and the Rococo eras.

History of the Gallerie dell’Accademia

The museum was founded in the 18th century and originally housed in the Scuola della Carità. It was later moved to its current location, the historic complex of Santa Maria della Carità (comprising the church, its monastery, and the Scuola Grande), in the early 19th century.

The first buildings on this site date back to the early 12th century, and were where religious orders shared space with the Battuti, or flagellants – the oldest confraternity of lay people in Venice, until the early 19th century. The church and the monastery underwent waves of renovation in the 15th century, and the eastern wing of the monastery was modified by Andrea Palladio in the 1560s.

The buildings housing the Scuola Grande were renovated in the 18th century, based on designs by Giorgio Massari and his student Bernardino Macaruzzi. After the fall of the Republic, the Santa Maria della Carità complex became the property of the state and then, in 1807, designated as the site of the Accademia di belle arti, or Academy of fine arts, and its gallery following an edict by Napoleon.

The building itself is a work of art, with beautiful vaulted ceilings and a grand staircase.

Most of the Gallerie dell’Accademia’s collection was accumulated after the closing of monasteries, churches, and fine palaces when Venetian noble families began to leave the island. The different places the art came from has made the collection extremely varied, and includes masterpieces by some of the greatest ever artists, including Bellini, Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, and Canaletto.

Gallerie dell’Accademia today

The Gallerie dell’Accademia’s collection is extensive and well-curated, with paintings arranged chronologically across 24 rooms. This means visitors are taken through the history of Venice from the eyes of the city’s artists, and can see firsthand the evolution and progression of Italian artistic styles and techniques over the centuries.

The most famous work of the Gallery, Leonardo da Vinci‘s Vitruvian Man, is not displayed for visitors except on very rare occasions as, being on paper, the work is fragile and sensitive to light.

However, some of the main highlights displayed include Titian’s ‘Pieta‘ and ‘St John the Baptist‘, Bellini’s ‘Sacred Conversation‘, Tintoretto’s ‘Crucifixion‘, Giovanni Bellini’s ‘Madonna and Saints‘, Vittore Carpaccio’s ‘Portrait of Christ‘, and ‘St Ursula Cycle‘, and Veronese’s ‘Feast in the House of Levi‘. There are also numerous works of art by lesser-known artists that are highly impressive.

Getting to Gallerie dell’Accademia

The Gallerie dell’Accademia is located along the south bank of the Grand Canal, opposite the Accademia bridge and across from the Accademia vaporetto stop. It is a 20-minute stroll from both Piazzale Roma and Venezia-Santa Lucia railway station.

From Piazzale Roma/Railway Station, take Line 1 or 2 vaporetto, Lido bound, and get off at the Accademia stop. From Saint Mark’s Square, take the Line 1 or 2 vaporetto, Piazzale Roma bound, and get off at the Accademia stop.

The museum is open on Mondays from 8:15am to 2pm, and from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:15am to 7:15pm.

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