Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Venice is known for its museums, but perhaps none more so than the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. You’ll find this modern art museum on the Grand Canal between the Gallerie dell’Accademia and Santa Maria Della Salute. It’s hands down one of Europe’s best modern art museums. It’s home to an awe-inspiring collection of masterpieces spanning art eras and a range of different styles. The museum is named after its founder, the well-known art collector, Peggy Guggenheim. She was a devoted art lover and enjoyed adding new pieces to her ever-growing collection before her death in 1979. Her legacy has become one of Venice’s most visited attractions. So, if you’re a fan of history and art, you’ll definitely want to make time to see the museum and explore all of its treasures.
The Woman Behind the Name
Peggy Guggenheim lost her father on the Titanic’s maiden voyage, which sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912. As expected, the untimely death of her father was very difficult for Peggy. And, it wasn’t long before she threw herself into her love of art. Perhaps it played an important role in distracting her from her sadness. But, it also helped to make her one of the greatest art collectors of the 20th century. The museum was once Peggy’s home and was an 18th century Grand Canal palace. She lived a wealthy existence and enjoyed the finer things in life. One of which, was collecting masterpieces. She devoted her life and home to her mission and collected masterpieces ranging from Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism and Cubism.
Discover the Collection
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection features works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Jackson Pollock among others. Peggy’s ex-husband, Max Ernst, also painted a number of the pieces found in the museum. However, Peggy wasn’t only interested in the well-known masters of the time. She appreciated all art, no matter how famous the artist. So, she also collected pieces from lesser-known artists and displayed them proudly in her museum.
There are so many amazing artwork pieces to discover when you get a chance to visit. But, a few of the favourites include Salvador Dali’s ‘Birth of Liquid Desires’, Picasso’s ‘The Poet, On the Beach’, Max Ernst’s ‘The Kiss, Attirement of the Bride’ and many others. New works have been added and gifted to the museum over the years. For example, 83 pieces from the famous Rudolph and Hannelore Schulhof Collection was added to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in 2012. When you visit the museum, you’re free to explore all these works of art and more.
The Sculpture Garden
Peggy Guggenheim passed in 1979 and was laid to rest in the Sculpture Garden, which is located in the palace. The pieces you’ll find in the garden are somewhat emotional and often inspire conversations about their meanings and symbolic gestures. You’ll see Peggy’s final resting place, along with the headstones of her 14 cherished dogs, who she loved like her children. One of the most famous sculptures in the garden is the Fritz Koenig’s Chariot, which was sculpted in 1957. Another somewhat hunting piece is Mimmo Paladino’s ‘The Cloven Viscount’, which depicts what onlookers have always described as a ‘noble man split in two’.
If you continue to explore the captivating garden, you’ll eventually come across a unique feature that’s neither a work of art or sculpture. Instead, it’s a tree. Referred to as the ‘Wishing Tree of Venice’, this organic piece has become known as the highlight of the garden. It’s surrounded in mystery and wonder as visitors are asked to write their wishes on pieces of white paper, which is then tied to one of the tree branches with string.
What’s a trip to the museum without stopping at the shop on your way out? The Museum Shop in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is located inside the main palace, right beside the main entrance. Inside, you’ll discover items inspired by the collection and Peggy herself. You can shop for everything from postcards to books, posters, scarves, t-shirts and more. Treat yourself to a few souvenirs to help remember your visit. The shop is also a great place to visit if you need to pick up a few things to bring back home to friends and family. There are lots of interesting keepsakes and books available in both Italian and English editions. One of the most popular and sought-after items in the shop is Peggy Guggenheim’s autobiography, which tells her story in striking colour and intricate detail.