A retrofit designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Renzo Piano transformed Venice’s historic salt warehouses into Fondazione Vedova art galleries, commemorating pioneering Venetian abstract painter Emilio Vedova. Fondazione Vedova shows are often literally moving and rotating: powered by renewable energy sources, 10 robotic arms designed by Vedova and Piano move major modern artworks in and out of storage slots.
Although the facade is a neoclassical job from the 1830s, these nine salt warehouses were established in the 14th century, when the all-important salt monopoly made Venice’s fortune. Before fridges and electricity, the only way to preserve foodstuffs was to cure or pack them in salt – and since preserved foods were essential for ocean voyages, salt was crucial to maritime commerce. By controlling the salt trade, Venice effectively controlled the seas for centuries.
Today's creatively repurposed salt warehouses are only fitting, now that Venice's most precious commodity is art, not salt. Neighbouring Spazio Vedova (at Zattere 50) includes a public art and performance space.