Category Archives: Sightseeing Venice

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.

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

images courtesy Musei Civici Veneziani

Biennale Bites – recap, Day 3

The last preview day was Friday, and the air was considerably more relaxed. Took in more both at the Giardini and in the Arsenale…and managed to catch Best Artist Golden Lion winner Christian Marclay’s “The Clock” before running to a author preview at the new cafe at the Serra greenhouse. Basta for now, although there is much more to see of the Biennale and other shows running concurrently — including the one at the Fortuny that a friend described as the best she’s ever seen there — now that’s saying a lot.

The 54th Biennale opened to the public as of June 4th and will be around until the 27th of November — plenty of time even for off-season travelers. Outside the official venues there are free exhibitions sprinkled throughout palaces, scuole, ex-churches, hotels and businesses in Venice — you can’t help but run into them.

Although art pros from critics to collectors to curators will have lots to say about the composition and creation of this year’s Biennale, there’s something for everyone — see for yourself until November 27.


Biennale Bites – Preview Day 1

A glorious day; even if it did threaten to be a bit drippy, it never quite followed though. Between the ground that must be covered to get your press pass, the many square kilometers of the Giardini, the expansive Arsenale, and seemingly endless number of exhibitions that take place there, composed of and constructed from every conceivable form of medium imaginable — a day is barely enough to get started. I love the corderie (where all the ropes for Venetian vessels were once hewn and wound), a soaring space, which as you walk it presents you with once concept after another: some massive, some grouped, some walk through, some painted, some constructed, some inscrutable, some in your face. “It’s a photograph,” comments one onlooker. “I did one of these at university. Everything old is new again.” Contrast the ancient Corderie with a bright, blooming Giardini, dotted with pavilions large and small, each devoted to a single country, each proudly hosting this year’s representative exhibition.

But expression will not be confined, and neither will the Biennale. It’s as if exhibitions have rained down over the city, searching for a suitable space — and if there was one, it now hosts some irrepressible form of contemporary expression: palaces like the Prada-restored Corner, the Scuola della Misericordia, the Palazzo Grassi, the Fortuny; others like the Punto della Dogana, and more, and more. Sure, some are renovated for hotels, some hold regular concerts for tourists. But it seems the Biennale knew that these spaces were also ideal for something a bit more — vibrant — and has managed to bring the point home.

Whether the works are new or revived, comprehensible or less so, it’s a joyous thing for lots of reasons, this Biennale, not the least of which is being a catalyst in bringing old structures back to life and filling them with enough contemporary expression and vitality to the degree that every journalist who had the mean, the commission and who could spell the word “art” is here to see just what emerging artists from almost every country in the world have to say.

The former queen of Cyprus would be quite proud, I’d imagine. Do you think she’s keeping an eye out?



Biennale Bites

The ACTV vaporetto strike challenged journalists who arrived from all over the world to attend a wave of inaugurations that washed over the city today, anticipating the official three-days of previews beginning tomorrow at the Giardini and Arsenale. If today was any indication, ILLUMInations, the 54th edition of the Arte Biennale may bring new meaning to the term “stimulus overload.” Below are some sneak peeks at the glorious Prada restoration and exhibition at the Palazzo Corner della Regina and the Fabre exhibition at the Scuola Misericordia; do stay tuned for more Biennale Bites during the upcoming week.