Burano's Lace Museum tells the story of a craft that cut across social boundaries, endured for centuries and evoked the epitome of civilisation reached during the Republic's heyday. From the triple-petalled corollas on the fringes of the Madonna’s mantle in Torcello’s 12th-century mosaics to Queen Margherita’s spider-web-fine 20th-century mittens, lace-making was both the creative expression of female sensitivity and a highly lucrative craft.
Enter the exhibition downstairs with a video detailing the early origins of lace-making and its geographical spread from northern France to Bohemia, Malta and Turkey. Upstairs, four rooms cover the major developments from the 16th to the 20th century. Pattern books, journals, paintings, furniture and costumery place the evolving art in its historical context, starting with ecclesiastical garments and delicate trinette (accessories), and branching out into naughty, fringed underwear and sumptuously embroidered bodices shot through with silver thread.
In the final room, a group of local lacemakers often sit tatting and gossiping beneath pictures of the Lace School (where many of them learnt their craft), which was located here from 1872 to 1970. Don’t be shy to ask questions about their work.