The Glass Museum was founded in 1861 on the initiative of Antonio Colleoni, at that time mayor of Murano, and of the abbot Vincenzo Zanetti.
The building, now home to the museum, was built as a patrician residence in the typical forms of flowery Gothic, of which traces remain in the column with capital of the atrium and in the windows of the facade overlooking the courtyard.
In 1689 the bishop of Torcello, Marco Giustinian, moved his seat here and then bought the building to donate it to the diocese. It was then radically renovated, based on a project by the architect Antonio Gaspari.
From those years, remains the ceiling of the central hall on the first noble floor. They were frescoed by Francesco Zugno (1709-1787), with quadrature (architectural motifs) by Francesco Zanchi (1734-1772), depicting the Triumph of San Lorenzo Giustiniani, ancestor of the family and first patriarch of Venice.
The building remained the seat of the diocese of Torcello until it was suppressed in 1805. It then passed to the Patriarchate of Venice, which sold it in 1840 to the Municipality of Murano, of which it became the seat. In 1861 the first nucleus of the island's museum-archive found space here, in the central hall, then gradually extended to the entire building. In 1923 Murano became part of the Municipality of Venice, which therefore also acquired the palace and the museum.
The Glass Museum was born with the idea of establishing an archive of testimonies on the history and life of the island, which, since the fall of the Republic of Venice (1797), has experienced a long period of crisis, from which it is beginning to recover . The museum soon took over the archive, thanks to numerous donations of ancient and contemporary glass from the Murano kilns, which in the second half of the nineteenth century began to work intensely again.
To support their activity, Abbot Zanetti in 1862 also annexed a school to the museum where glassmakers studied drawing and the glass of the past preserved there.
After the annexation of Murano to the Municipality of Venice in 1923, the museum became part of the heritage of the city, the collections were rearranged in 1932 by Giulio Lorenzetti and Nino Barbantini and enriched with glass from other Venetian civic collections. The museum thus acquires precious Renaissance pieces and later, thanks to deposits from the Archaeological Superintendence, also an important nucleus of ancient glass from excavations. Purchases and donations continue over time to increase the collections, including contemporary works.