Museum of Oriental Art of Venice

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Until 28 April 2024

Museum of Oriental Art

The Museum of Oriental Art in Venice houses most of the collection of Henry of Bourbon , who purchased them in the last decades of the 19th century, during his trip to the Far East (1887-1889).

Set up on the second floor of Palazzo Vendramin Calergi , in 1907 the collection passed to the Austrian company C. Trau which began selling it until the outbreak of the First World War. After the conflict, the collection was confiscated by the Italian state as compensation for war damage. Between 1925 and 1928 the superintendent Gino Fogolari, making use of the collaboration of Nino Barbantini, set up the first state Museum of Oriental Art , on the top floor of Ca' Pesaro, inaugurating it in May 1928.

The Museum of Oriental Art of Venice today largely preserves the historical layout of 1928, an extraordinary museographic episode from the beginning of the century.

The visitor will therefore find the ancient wooden shop windows, sometimes crowded but perfectly harmonized with the baroque rooms of the palace adapted by Barbantini into a highly fascinating whole. The light is kept low, for conservative reasons.

In the seven rooms dedicated to Japan we can admire today weapons and parade armor belonging to the feudal lords of the Edo Period (1603-1868), saddles and stirrups in lacquer, a rare sedan chair for ladies, paintings on paper and silk, silk dresses with precious embroidery.

Two rooms are dedicated to lacquer objects, coming from the wedding trousseaus of rich aristocratic families, made with the makie technique, golden lacquer. Musical instruments are excellent artistic pieces used for performing major genres of traditional Japanese music.

The works mainly belong to the Edo Period (from the name of the capital, Edo, today's Tokyo) or Tokugawa, from the name of the shogunal house that ruled the country's fate for over two hundred and fifty years, guaranteeing the archipelago a period of relative peace, characterized by almost complete isolation. There is no shortage of older works, such as a pair of wooden statues from the Kamakura period (1185-1333), or blades from the Muromachi period (1392-1568).

The Chinese section displays jade and porcelain from various manufacturers and a precious painted scroll.

In the room dedicated to Southeast Asia there are Thai silver and porcelain, Burmese lacquer artefacts, rare kris, batik fabrics and leather puppets from wayang , the Indonesian shadow theatre.

Some works from the collection are exhibited in rotation while others such as woodcuts, Buddhist altars, masks and theater costumes, Chinese and Japanese fabrics and paintings or furniture, are placed in storage for conservation and space reasons.


Permanent Collection

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Santa Croce, 2076
30135 Venice


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