One of Venice’s most prominent families, the Grimani family’s palazzi is one of Venice’s hidden gems, not least because it is difficult to find unless you go by river taxi, but also because it is Venice’s only Roman style palazzi, with an astonishing
Googlemaps was totally defeated by the unique street and canal layout of Venice, yet the palazzi is actually easy to find if you follow an old-fashioned map.
Originally built by the Venetian Doge Antonio Grimani, the palace was redesigned and enlarged between 1532 and 1569 in Roman style to be a fitting home for the family’s large collection of antiquities with a series of astonishing rooms culminating in the Tribune which held over a hundred archaeological pieces.
Sadly, the 20th century was not kind to the palazzo which was rescued by the Italian state after falling into decay and is now an art gallery and museum, with careful restorations where appropriate. The start of the visit is a little spooky with an exhibition of eyes (which follow you round the rooms) by the German/New Zealand artist Sandro Copp who now lives in the Highlands of Scotland (his eyes following you round the rooms). Thereafter on this principal floor, the architecture is fascinating, especially the painted ceilings, and it gradually moves up a pace to the Tribune where many of the antique sculptures have been returned to finish off one of the most splendid rooms in Venice.
The top floor is much less elaborate and is used for temporary exhibitions, currently showing a retrospective of the life and work of the American artist Helen Frankenhaler (1928 -2011), not as well-known as she ought to be.