Project Description

Renovation and maintenance work on the Piano Nobile for the exhibition set-up of DOMUS GRIMANI – THE ROOM OF THE DOGE
Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Venice

Renovation and maintenance work
on the Piano Nobile for the exhibition setup of

Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Venice

Project Director
Guido Jaccarino

CBC – Conservazione Beni Culturali
Fabio Farding
Falegnameria Davanzo
Gino Feltrin
Jonathan Ceolin
Jonathan Hoyte
Salgaro snc
Studio Modena Ingegneria

Fondazione Violetta Caprotti
Fondazione Cologni Mestieri d’Arte
Venetian Heritage

Start date
January 2021

End date
May 2021

€ 492.544,00

Palazzo Grimani in Santa Maria Formosa is the only palazzo in Venice conceived in the Roman style. Its uniqueness is reflected in the expansions of the ancient Gothic palace, originally built in an L-shaped plan, a typical feature of Venetian architecture from the 14th and 15th centuries. The enlightened owner, Patriarch Giovanni, transformed it into a Roman domus, complete with a peristyle, rooms adorned with frescoes and stuccoes never before seen in the lagoon, created by foreign artists who were previously active at the papal court in the Eternal City.
The ancient building was acquired in the early 16th century by Doge Antonio, the progenitor of the Grimani family branch known as Santa Maria Formosa. It underwent various transformations and expansions, eventually taking on its current form during the second half of the 16th century. The interior decoration of the residence was most likely orchestrated by the Patriarch of Aquileia and his brother Vettore to house their famous collections.
In May 2019, the Domus Grimani exhibition was inaugurated, showcasing the collection of classical sculptures in the palace after four centuries. This special exhibition was organized with the support of Venetian Heritage, with the intention of relocating Greek and Roman sculptures to the famous Tribuna after four hundred years, while also promoting and valorizing the existing national artistic heritage.

The Room of the Doge

Building on the success achieved in 2019, Venetian Heritage, in collaboration with the Direzione Regionale Musei Veneto (MIC), has decided to fund a new exhibition project dedicated to the reinstallation of the Room of the Doge. This project aims to return to their original placement a series of classical sculptures that adorned the walls of the magnificent room dedicated to Doge Antonio and designed by Giovanni Grimani until the end of the 16th century. Through a careful study of historical sources, including Patriarch Grimani’s will, historical descriptions of the period, and recently discovered late 19th-century photographs from the archives of the National Gallery in Washington, the curators Daniele Ferrara, Director of the Direzione Regionale Musei Veneto, and Toto Bergamo Rossi, Director of Venetian Heritage, were able to reposition twenty sculptures within the hall. This includes the group of Dionysus leaning on an Imperial Roman satyr in the niche of the front wall. Additionally, eleven sculptures have been placed in adjacent rooms: six in the vestibule, one in the Chamber of Callisto, and four in the Room of Psyche.
On this occasion, significant restoration and maintenance work has been carried out on the rooms throughout the first noble floor of the palace. The palace has also been equipped with a new heating and lighting system.

Room of Psyche

Particularly noteworthy among the performed interventions is the restoration of the original configuration of the Room of Psyche, a room facing the Rio di San Severo and integrated into the new exhibition path. Presumably, in the early 20th century, the Room of Psyche was divided into two smaller rooms by the construction of a partition wall. In the architectural arrangement that took shape in the 1530s, the ceiling was adorned with five paintings depicting the story of Cupid and Psyche as narrated by Apuleius. These paintings were set within a wooden coffered structure. At the center, one could admire the octagonal painting created on wood by Francesco Salviati in 1539, depicting Psyche being venerated as a goddess for her beauty. In 2006, the Ministry of Culture acquired a canvas on the antique market, believed to be an ancient copy of the lost original by Francesco Salviati.
With the intention of restoring the room to its original space and strengthening the ceiling structure, the inconsistent dividing wall was demolished, following the approval of the relevant authority. During the renovation work, a chimney flue was discovered, revealing the existence of a large fireplace that had been lost to history. The only remaining evidence of the original fireplace decoration is a large slab of soft Vicenza stone, found during the reinforcement of the walls, upon which a salamander is carved in relief amidst flames.

The Portego and Georg Baselitz, Archinto

Located on the noble floor of the museum, the exhibition Archinto, curated by Mario Codognato and organized in collaboration with Gagosian and Venetian Heritage, includes twelve paintings specially created by the artist Georg Baselitz for the Portego Hall. These paintings are placed within their original 18th-century stucco frames, where, until the 1800s, the portraits of the Grimani family were displayed. Thanks to a very special agreement, these works will remain on long-term loan to the museum, granted by the artist, establishing a continuous dialogue between classical and contemporary art that further enriches the cultural offerings of the museum. This marks the first time to date that such a collaboration has taken place between a contemporary artist and a state museum in Venice.