Ca’ Pesaro

Museum in San Polo & Santa Croce

Like a Carnevale costume built for two, the stately exterior of this Baldassare Longhena–designed 1710 palazzo hides two intriguing museums: Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna and Museo d’Arte Orientale. While the former includes art showcased at La Biennale di Venezia, the latter holds treasures from Prince Enrico di Borbone's epic 1887–89 souvenir-shopping spree across Asia. Competing with the artworks are Ca’ Pesaro’s fabulous painted ceilings, which hint at the power and prestige of the Pesaro clan.

The Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna spans numerous art movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, including the Macchiaioli, Expressionists and Surrealists. 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. Later more treasures accrued from the 1990 Wildt-Scheiwiller bequest, including de Wildt’s extraordinary sculptures Silent Man (1899) and Vir Temporis Acti (1921). Other collection highlights include Lino Selvatico’s startlingly modern 19th-century portraits, Medrado Rosso’s melting waxwork busts, Armando Pizzinato’s timely and troubling A Ghost is Haunting Europe (1950), and Leoncillo’s forceful, neo-Cubist Woman Partisan, rendered in vividly coloured majolica.

Climb the creaky attic stairs of the Museo d’Arte Orientale past a phalanx of samurai warriors guarding a princely collection of Asian travel mementos. 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. Around three-quarters of the collection is Japanese; the remaining quarter includes a small collection of 12th- to 15th-century Islamic ceramic and an intricately carved Chinese chess set from the 18th century.

At the very top of the palazzo, temporary exhibitions are held showcasing modernist and contemporary masters such as Cy Twombly, William Merritt Chase and David Hockney. Entry is included in the ticket price.