Inside the Intricacies of Burano Lace

With the entire building extensively restored, restructured, and renovated and its precious collections re-envisioned, the Museo del Merletto — Burano Lace Museum — reopens to reveal an ancient craft in an ultramodern setting.

According to the press release, this restoration is a total one, from physical plant to interior design to presentational concept.

Located on the island of Burano in Piazza Galuppi, the museum is also the former location of the renowned Scuola Merletti di Burano (Burano School of Lace), founded in 1872 by Countess Andriana Marcello and in operation until 1970. It became a museum in 1981 and has been part of the Venetian Civic Museums since 1995.

We are proud to represent the synthesis of female wisdom and sensitivity an art that has transcended borders, social classes, regions…”

The objective of this long-overdue restoration was to highlight one of the greatest expressions of local artistic craftsmanship — the art of lacemaking — which is so intrinsically linked to the traditions and cultural history of the lagoon, and of the island of Burano in particular. This noble, ancient trade is almost exclusively carried out by women, combining two unpretentious, everyday materials (needle and thread) with skillful hands to produce intricate, true works of art. The museum presents the visitor with an overview of the historical and artistic vicissitudes of Venetian lace from its origins to the present day.

Lace Brought Back to Life

The revitalized interior incorporates island color schemes and innovative show cases designed and constructed specifically for this installation. The over one hundred and fifty samples of lace on display were selected from the most important collections of the Venice Civic Museums; you’ll also find paintings from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries, drawings, documents, journals, fabrics and costumes.

You’ll also be able to view skillful, tireless lace maestros at work; they are still today the guardians of an art that has been passed down from generation to generation. During the upcoming school year, educational activities will be resumed, including workshops, with initiatives aimed at both pupils and their families.

Said City Councilor for Cultural Activities Tiziana Agostini, “This is the story of hardworking hands, that over time have created priceless artifacts. We are proud to represent the synthesis of female wisdom and sensitivity an art that has transcended borders, social classes, regions, remain etched in the folds of time.”

Visitor’s itinerary completely redesigned

The objective of this long-overdue restoration was to highlight one of the greatest expressions of local artistic craftsmanship — the art of lacemaking — which is so intrinsically linked to the traditions and cultural history of the lagoon, and of the island of Burano in particular.

You’ll be immediately immersed in the world of lace with a brief, evocative film (subtitles in English); informative, illustrative panels reveal the secrets of this skillful technique and its most common points (punto Venezia, punto Burano).

A chronological visit continues one floor up though four rooms with four different themes:

1. Origins – sixteenth century. The diffusion and development of this art is documented by outstanding craftsmanship: From small trinette or ‘puntine’, accessories for men’s or women’s clothing, garments for ecclesiastic functions, and underwear with decorated hems with ornate designs;

2. 17th – 18th centuries. In the seventeenth century lace reached its peak: it became widespread throughout Europe, a symbol of prestige and social rank owing to its great value and intricate elegance. Production reached substantial proportions throughout lagoon islands and on Burano, which specialized in needlework, while in Pellestrina they adopted a bobbin technique — both still true today.

3. 19th – 20th centuries. Economic and social transformations and changes in fashion including the growing popularity of more comfortable and functional clothing marked the beginning of the decline of the lace market; it was gradually overcome thanks to the revival of the Burano lace school.

4. The Burano Lace School (1872-1970). With the patronage of the future Queen Margherita of Savoy, enlightened aristocracy and politicians devised a project opening a Lace School with the aim both to revive lace production and somehow ease the poor economic conditions of the island’s inhabitants. These sections employ video- and film clips, explanation sheets and a series of period glass, garments, books, drawings, paintings that create a context that is both informative and evocative.

Finally, a new museum guidebook published by Skira-Marsilio is now available in all city museum bookshops.


MUSEO del MERLETTO
Piazza Galuppi, 187 – Burano

Open daily
10am-6pm, Apr – Oct
10am-5pm, Nov – Mar
Last ticket purchase one hour before closing

Closed Tuesdays, December 25th, January 1st, May 1st

Admission €5, reduced €3,50

visitmuve.it

images courtesy Musei Civici Veneziani

4 Responses to Inside the Intricacies of Burano Lace
  1. Murissa Maurice
    June 28, 2011 | 6:57 pm

    I watched the episode of Anthony Bourdain when he ventured to Venice and ending up in Burano – not for the lace which he made clear is a dying craft as the women who live there do not possess the skill that their forebears did. No, he went to Burano for an amazing looking fish Risotto at the only restaurant who is still allowed to use a wood burning fire in their kitchen. I cannot remember the name unfortunately.

    The Wanderfull Traveler

  2. Living Venice
    June 29, 2011 | 10:33 am

    There’s a much broader lace story than the one Signore Bourdain was able to relate on his brief stopover on Burano…and they’ve really done it justice with the rich and informative presentation at the renovated museum.

    I’m sure Bourdain stopped by Gatto Nero or da Romano, but do seek out risotto at any recommended eatery — it’s a local (and northern) specialty, and fish just doesn’t get any fresher… 🙂

  3. Jeanine in Canada
    July 11, 2011 | 11:40 pm

    Do you know if the guidebook is available online anywhere? I can’t find it in the Skira online catalogue. It will be a few years until I can get back to Italy (was just there this past spring). Thanks!

  4. […] good now, this town is made from lace. its ladies’ hands are nimble, fine edged and oh so lovely. they loop and dip, stitch and […]

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