The Museo delle Gallerie dell’Accademia occupies the old Scuola and former Church of Santa Maria della Carità and the monastery of the Canonici Lateranensi, built by Andrea Palladio. It was opened as a gallery space in 1807, and modelled on the Louvre, while Venice was part of the Kingdom of Italy under Napoleon. During that period numerous Napoleonic decrees led to the closure – and in many cases the demolition – of public and religious buildings. Most of the paintings were taken to the Accademia so that they could be saved and studied by the students of the art school. The collection was enriched over the course of the 19th century by important bequests and public purchases. It is now a temple of Veneto painting. The display space in the museum has been doubled with the recent acquisition of the ground floor, occupied until a few years ago by the Accademia di Belle Arti. This important work was financed and directed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and designed by Tobia Scarpa. The partnership between Samsung, a world leader in digital technology, and Venetian Heritage enabled the five rooms in the new ‘Grandi Gallerie’. The rooms house new displays on the ground floor, which include extraordinary works of art, some of which had never been seen by the public due to lack of space. A gallery of portraits of the first directors of the Accademia leads on to a room dedicated to Gianbattista Tiepolo and his sketches for the ceilings of several Venetian churches and palazzi. The next room celebrates the grand painting of the eighteenth century, with works by Fetti, Strozzi, Valentin de Boulogne, Baschenis, Nicolas Régnier, Pietro da Cortona and Luca Giordano. These paintings are exhibited in the “Collector’s Room”, where a wall has been decorated in the style of that in a seventeenth-century Venetian palazzo. The first five rooms of this new arrangement were opened on 8 May 2015. The project also equipped the Gallerie dell’Accademia with the most innovative technology, creating new models for museum education and allowing visitors to discover its treasures, and better understand the building history, the artist and the extraordinary paintings conserved in the museum. The goal is to broaden the educational offering and encourage the most informed and inclusive visit possible. An important part of the project is dedicated to students and teachers, and to usersand providers of educational materials, which involves setting up educational workshops for students but also for teachers in the “Smart Classrom”, where the history of the works on display can be explored. The gallery includes interactive totems and tablets with multimedia content that are varied according to the users. They are located next to the main masterpieces on display, allowing these to be enjoyed in a dynamic and engaging way.
The film director James Ivory, honorary member of Venetian Heritage, greets the visitor on video and ends his presentation by speaking the aim of Venetian Heritage and Samsung for the new Gallerie dell’Accademia: “art is and must be accessible to all”.
Special thanks to the Dipartimento Ingegneria Civile Edile ed Ambientale at Padua University, Duke University and the IUAV for having supplied the Visualizing Venice video wall that illustrates the virtual historic reconstruction of the Accademia and its vicinity and to Rubelli for having supplied the fabric for the “Collector’s Room”.