12 – Museo del Vetro
12 – Museo del Vetro, contains the largest collection in the world of Murano glass and traces the history of glass from its origins to the 20th century.
The Glass Museum, now a great tourist attraction, showcases some of the most stunning pieces ever to be made from the glass. Everything from jewellery, delicate vases, to stunning chandeliers; can be found on display
Historically, Venetian Glass or “Vetro Veneziano”, has been made for over 1,500 years and since the 13th C, production has been concentrated on the island of Murano. It has a long history of innovations in glass making being Europe’s first major glass making centre; but is today renowned for its artistic creations.
- Located in a remodelled Gothic style palace
- Europe’s first glass-making city
- Cost: €10,00 (adults), €7,50 (reduced) or buy a Civic Museum Pass for its 11 museums
- Suggested duration: 1 – 2 hours
- Vaporetto stop from “Fondamenta Nuove” on Venice: Line 4.1 or 4.2 to the “Museo” stop on Murano. From Lido di Venezia: travel on line 5.1 to the Fondemente Nuove and change
12 – Museo del Vetro – ORIGINS OF GLASS-MAKING.
The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, is considered the birthplace of glass making. Evidence suggest that glass was made there before 2000 B.C. It was also made in Syria as far back as 1700 B.C. and around 100 B.C., the Syrians started glass-blowing.
There are two main theories about the beginning of Venetian glass making:
- The first is that glass making began as glass makers from Aquileia arrived, after fleeing barbarian invasions during the fifth century.
- The second theory is that Venetian glass making developed from Venetian interaction and trade with the Eastern Mediterranean. The original Venetian glass makers, were joined by glass makers from Byzantium and from the Middle East; which enriched their glass making knowledge. Glass was made in the Middle East long before it was made in Europe; though Ancient Roman glass made in Italy, Germany and elsewhere, could be extremely sophisticated.
Early products included beads, glass for mosaics, jewellery, small mirrors, and window glass.
GLASS-MAKING IN VENICE.
Glass-making had existed within the Venetian lagoon, since the 8th C. The earliest archaeological evidence of a glass factory in the area, comes from the island of Torcello and dates from the 7th to 8th centuries.
However, by laws passed in 1291, glass making was then concentrated in Murano; removing the significant possibility of a major fire disaster for the city. The move also helped further developments in glass making skills and preserve secrets of their profession.
During the 15th century, Murano glass makers created an almost transparent glass named “cristallo”; considered the finest glass in the world. Another development was a white or milk coloured glass known as “lattimo”, that resembled porcelain. Later they were considered Europe’s finest makers of mirrors.
By the 15th and 16th centuries, Murano became Europe’s premier glass making centre; Venice’s dominance in Mediterranean trade created a wealthy merchant class, that became connoisseurs and collectors of the arts. This helped establish demand for art glass and innovations.
As glass-making skills spread throughout Europe, the importance of Venice and its Murano glass makers declined. The fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, caused more hardship for Murano’s glass making industry.
Murano glass making began a revival in the 1920’s and today; Murano is one of Venice’s great tourist attractions. The island is home to many competing glass factories and a few artist’s studios.
The Museo del Vetro (Glass Museum) in the Palazzo Giustinian, was founded in 1861 and contains displays on the history of glass making, from Roman times to the present day.
BUILDING AND HISTORY
Originally a patrician’s palace in typical Flamboyant Gothic style, it became the ancient residence of the bishops of Torcello.
In 1659, it became the residence of Bishop Marco Giustinian, who later bought the property and donated it to the Torcello diocese. This was the period when extensive rebuilding was carried out, based on plans by Antonio Gaspari.
When in 1805 the Torcello diocese was abolished, the palace passed into the hands of the Venice Patriarchate; which in turn sold it to the Murano Municipality in 1840 and it became the town hall.
The museum and archives were established in 1861 and were both housed in the central room on the first floor. However, the rapid and steady growth of the collection, made it necessary to find more space and so gradually the museum occupied the whole building. After the autonomous Murano Municipality, was abolished in 1923 and was annexed to Venice; the museum became part of the Venice Civic Museums.
Today, the large central room (portego) on the first floor, overlooks the Grand Canal. The original splendour of the palace, with an 18th century fresco by Francesco Zugno (1709 – 1789); depicts the allegory of the “Triumph of San Lorenzo Giustinian”, the first patriarch of Venice (1381 – 1455). He was an ancestor of the family, which radically altered the building in the 17th century.
Francesco Zanchi (1734 – 1772), also collaborated with Zugno; by completing his work with architectural details. The frieze, with the coat of arms of Murano families is modern. Of the three large chandeliers, the central one with 60 branches; is of particular merit. It was made by Giovanni Fuga and Lorenzo Santi and presented at the first Murano Glass Exposition in 1864; where it was awarded a gold medal.
L to R: Cristallo Stem Glass – Filigrana Style Jar – Enamelled Lattimo Glass – Barovia Enamelled Jar – Bowl c. 1970’s
LAYOUT AND CHRONOLOGY
The Murano Glass Museum collection, is laid out chronologically and shows the history and evolution through the centuries.
- Archaeological Collection
Starting from the origin of Murano glass in Venice, the first rooms of the museum house the original nucleus of the collection; which consists of artefacts received by: the Abbot Zanetti – founder of the Glass Museum – the collections of the Correr Museum and the Archaeological Superintendence. The archaeological collection of the Venice Museum of Glass, boasts Roman artefacts, objects with depictions of animals and plants, glass ‘murrini‘ and examples of applications and decorations, used in ancient times.
- Murano Glass in the 15th century
There is not much evidence of the beginnings of Murano antique glass, however, from the 1400’s blown glass becomes a means of artistic expression; marking the start of a kind of production that leaves room for creativity and new decorative techniques. You can witness the evolution from ‘crystal clear’ glass, to the pure and transparent glass, that during the next century; leads to the development of new decorative techniques.
- Murano Glass in the 16th century
Typical glass of the 16th century includes: ‘lattimo‘, white opaque glass like porcelain, glass used in filigree or decorated with enamels, and ice glass with a typical cracked outer surface. The incisions made with a diamond tip or flint, began to be used in creating fine decorative patterns; while the pictorially subjects drawn from paintings of famous artists were preferred. During the course of this century, the forms of artefacts gradually became more complex; demonstrating greater skills in glass processing and a move away from simplicity and practicality. This was also the century, in which the precious Murano glass; spread throughout Europe.
- Murano Glass in the 17th century
During the 1600’s, there were no particular further innovations in manufacturing techniques or decoration of Murano Glass. It is the century of the so-called glass “à la façon de Venise“, often produced by Murano glassmakers who emigrated abroad; marking the decorative motifs which appeared during the 1500’s. Considered to be the century of the most prestigious Murano glass, the 17th century is also the beginning of the decline. In addition to the massive exodus of Murano glassmakers abroad, towards the end of the century, the market began to prefer Bohemian glass.
- Murano Glass in the 18th century
In the course of 1700’s, Murano Glass acquired new life thanks to Joseph Briati. In Murano the Glass Museum in Venice, preserves many examples of his vast output, including: “chiocche” (crystal chandeliers decorated with multiple arms); “deseri” or table decorations famous for their ornamental richness and variety of the subjects represented and beautiful mirrors.
The revival started by Joseph Briati, succeeded in revitalizing the entire glassmaker industry in Murano: the famous ‘lattimo‘ glass was produced by the Miotti and Bertolini families, while Osvaldo Brussa and his son, brought attention to the ancient technique of hand-blown glass decorated with hot enamels.
- Murano Glass in the 19th century
In 1797, the fall of the Venetian Republic, also had significant effects on the production of Murano Glass art; which went through a period of technique and aesthetic decline. From the second half of the 19th century, blown glass by Antonio Salviati and reproduction of Roman mosaic glass by Vincenzo Moretti; offered new ideas to the glassmaking industry.
Among the most interesting productions of the period, one must include the imitations of the early Christian gold leaf glass; enamel glass; of which a fine example in the museum is the so-called “Barovier Cup“. These were artefacts mimicking excavated pottery. Towards the end of the 19th century, Europe moves away from historical models, presenting new styles and movements. In Murano, evidences of this change seem to be expressed only by the Barovier Artists, in their beautiful wine glasses inspired by Art Nouveau.
- Murano Glass in the 20th century
At the beginning of the 20th century, the traditional techniques of glass working, began to be used for more modern creations; as demonstrated in the ‘Peacock murrina‘ and the plate of Vittorio Zecchin.
After the First World War, many artists pursuing personal projects, began working closely with the furnaces on the island. This trend continued, bringing Murano glassmaking, back to the centre of the international glass industry. Perhaps the finest works, are the daring combinations of glass and wrought iron, designed by Umberto Bellotto in cooperation with the Barovier artists and also the fantastic glassy fabrics; created by Carlo Scarpa for Venini.
After the Second World War, Murano developed an interest in the chromatic effects of the glass; as can be seen in the works of Ercole Barovier. Also noteworthy, are the sculptures by Alfredo Barbini and the creations of watermarks, by Archimede Seguso.
From the 1950’s onwards, the collaborations between designers of international fame and Murano furnaces become more frequent; giving the island a leading role in the glass industry worldwide.
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12 – Museo del Vetro (not linked)
LINKS (internal – external)
Museo del Vetro – via Fondamenta Giustinian – Murano, 8 Venezia (VE) – Italy
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: +39 041 739586
Services: Information desk – toilets – bookshop
Opening Hours. ( As of March 2022 – please check opening hours, prices and for any health requirements for entry.)
- From 1.04 to 31.10 10am – 6pm (last entrance at 5.30pm)
- From 1.11 to 31.03 10am – 5pm (last entrance at 4.30pm)
- Closed: 25.12, 1.01, 1.05
- Single Ticket: Full price € 10 Reduced € 7.50
- A single ticket valid for: Murano Glass Museum + Burano Lace Museum € 10 Reduced € 7.50
- The Museum Pass is the cumulative ticket for the permanent collection of the “Musei Civici” of Venice, currently open and for those connected (Clock Tower not included). This ticket is valid for 6 months and grants one single admission to each museum. Full price: € 35,00 – Reduced (students/over 65): € 19,00 – Family ‘Museum Pass’ Offer: €19 – reduced ticket for all family paying members, for families of two adults and at least one child (up to 14).
To widen your experience and enjoyment before visiting, please see my comprehensive and illustrated posts below:
12 – Museo del Vetro 12 – Museo del Vetro 12 – Museo del Vetro 12 – Museo del Vetro