In 1869 Conte Giovanni Querini Stampalia made a gift of his ancestral 16th-century palazzo to the city on the forward-thinking condition that its 700-year-old library operate late-night openings. Downstairs, savvy drinkers take their aperitivi with a twist of high modernism in the Carlo Scarpa–designed garden, while the museum's temporary exhibitions add an element of the unexpected to the silk-draped salons upstairs.
Located in the upstairs apartments, the museum reflects the 18th-century tastes and interests of the count. Beneath the stuccoed ceilings you'll find rich furnishings and tapestries, Meissen and Sèvres porcelain, marble busts and some 400 paintings. Of these, many are dynastic portraits and conversation pieces, such as Alessandro and Pietro Longhi's genre scenes of masked balls, gambling dens and 18th-century bon vivants. It's a testimony to the richness of the collection that a lovely Tiepolo of St Francis clutching a crucifix is hidden in a small passageway off the bedroom.
Another standout is Giovanni Bellini's arresting Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, where the hapless child looks like a toddler mummy, standing up in tightly wrapped swaddling clothes. Other engaging pieces are the 39 winningly naïve Scenes of Public Life in Venice by Gabriele Bella (1730–99), which document the city and its customs during the period. Although somewhat crude in their realisation, the subject matter is fascinating.