Like a Carnevale costume built for two, the stately exterior of this Baldassare Longhena–designed 1710 palazzo hides two quirky museums: Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna and Museo d’Arte Orientale . Galleria d’Arte Moderna covers three floors and highlights Venice's role in modern-art history, while the attic holds treasures from Prince Enrico di Borbone's epic 1887–89 souvenir-shopping spree across Asia.
Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna begins with flag-waving early Biennales, showcasing Venetian landscapes and Venetian socialites by Venetian painters (notably Giacomo Favretto) and Luigi Nono's Italian social realism. Savvy Venice Biennale organisers soon diversified, showcasing Gustav Klimt’s 1909 Judith II (Salome) and Marc Chagall’s Rabbi of Vitebsk (1914–22). The 1961 De Lisi Bequest added Kandinskys and Morandis to the modernist mix of de Chiricos, Mirós and Moores, plus radical abstracts by postwar Venetian artists Giuseppe Santomaso and Emilio Vedova. Second-floor temporary exhibits are variable but often upstaged by sweeping Grand Canal views.
Climb the creaky attic stairs of the Museo d’Arte Orientale past a phalanx of samurai warriors, guarding a princely collection of Asian travel souvenirs. Prince Enrico di Borbone reached Japan when Edo art was discounted in favour of modern Meiji, and Edo-era netsukes, screens and a lacquerware palanquin are standouts in his collection of 30,000 objets d’art. The collection has been left much as it was organised in 1928, with a rotating selection of vintage curio cabinet displays covered to prevent light damage.