Palazzo Grassi: one of the symbols of Venice

Palazzo Grassi | palazzi Venezia

Venice is a city full of wonders and architectural beauty, world-famous for its canals, its gondoliers and its cultural and artistic heritage. One of the symbols of the city is undoubtedly Palazzo Grassi, a building of great elegance and refinement overlooking the Grand Canal.

Palazzo Grassi is not a museum with a temporary collection but an exhibition venue, which offers important art exhibitions throughout the year.

Palazzo Grassi: one of the symbols of Venice

Palazzo Grassi | palazzi Venezia


Palazzo Grassi was built in 1748 by architect Giorgio Massari for the Grassi family, one of the most important and wealthiest in 18th century Venice. For many years, the building housed the Grassi family, as well as important cultural and artistic figures, including the French poet Chateaubriand.

During the 20th century, Palazzo Grassi underwent several transformations, until in 1983 it was acquired by the Italian financier Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, who decided to transform it into a museum of contemporary art.



The restoration of Palazzo Grassi was commissioned by the Agnelli family, who bought the building in 1983 and turned it into a contemporary art museum. The architect in charge of this major renovation work was Gae Aulenti, who committed herself to a project of preservation without, however, renouncing a modern touch.

Gae Aulenti’s project was characterised by a great respect for the history and original architecture of the Palazzo, without, however, renouncing a personal and innovative interpretation. One of the main elements of his intervention was the enhancement of natural lighting, through the opening of new windows and the development of a system of light reflection and light amplification.

In addition, Gae Aulenti worked on the creation of new exhibition spaces, which were adapted to the Palazzo’s exhibition requirements. In particular, the architect designed a series of areas that could be adapted to the different exhibition requirements.

Gae Aulenti’s intervention was so successful that the architect was awarded the Award of Excellence in Architecture by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design in 1985. Thanks to Gae Aulenti’s work, Palazzo Grassi has taken on a new life, becoming an important exhibition venue for contemporary art, recognised worldwide for the quality of the exhibitions it hosts.



In 2005, when Francois Pinault acquired Palazzo Grassi and decided to entrust its restoration to the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, he developed an ambitious project that included an extensive redevelopment of the palace, but also a substantial overhaul of the interior spaces, to make them more functional and suitable for the most modern exhibition requirements.

Ando’s aim was to create a sort of neutral and versatile ‘white box’ inside the palace, capable of adapting to any type of display.
The restoration work lasted about two years, and took every detail of the building into consideration. A particularly interesting aspect of Ando’s work was the creation of a series of pathways and underground passages connecting Palazzo Grassi to another prestigious building owned by Pinault, the Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi, located directly opposite the museum.

Tadao Ando’s restoration of Palazzo Grassi was a great success and the Japanese architect was awarded the Golden Lion at the 2010 Venice Biennale.
Today, Palazzo Grassi is one of the places par excellence for contemporary art in Venice and one of the most important in Europe, with a collection of works by one of the world’s most important collectors: François Pinault.

Inside the building, exhibition spaces of great visual impact are housed, with a three-storey structure. Over the years, many important contemporary exhibitions have been held at Palazzo Grassi, such as Damien Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable.

Palazzo Grassi is undoubtedly one of the places to discover when visiting Venice. A building of great charm, it encapsulates the history, art and beauty of the lagoon city, and is one of the main centres of culture in Italy and Europe.

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