Palazzo Grassi

Price guide: Expensive

Campo San Samuele, San Marco 3231, Venice

Price guide: Expensive

Palazzo Grassi
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By Anne Hanley, your Venice expert

I write for CSMA Magazine, Departures, .... Read more
#20 of 22
expert-rated things to do in Venice
Expert overall rating:4.5 out of 5
Value for money:
Recommended for:
Culture vultures, Families with teenagers, First-time travellers, Mature travellers, Seasoned travellers, Art, Design and architecture, Great views / scenery

Expert review of Palazzo Grassi

Will this Grand Canal gallery alternate contemporary art with historic blockbusters?

French retail magnate Francois Pinault has one of the world’s largest collections of contemporary art. He keeps much of it in two venues in Venice: here at Palazzo Grassi, and at the Punta della Dogana.

Solid, rather ungainly Palazzo Grassi on the Grand Canal was Pinault's first Italian foray; he acquired the pile in 2005. In a departure from its original mandate, recent shows here have drawn almost exclusively on Pinault's own collection. However a 2010 change at the helm of museum management may signal a return to the kind of huge blockbuster exhibitions (the Etruscans, Rome and the Barbarians) which this gallery was known for under its previous owners – car manufacturer Fiat – and in the early Pinault days. I certainly hope so: two major venues devoted to identical themes are rather too much in a small town like Venice.

As at Punta della Dogana, the restoration and makeover of Palazzo Grassi were overseen by Japanese architectural superstar Tadao Ando. In general, I find the Punta much more successful than the Palazzo which I feel has a done-in-a-hurry air to it, and many side-rooms seem pokey and dark. But the glassed-in central courtyard provides a great space for large works, and passing vaporetto passengers are often pleasantly surprised by the playful works exhibited on the pontoon out front on the Grand Canal.  

Where to eat & drink

The café at Palazzo Grassi, run by Irina Freguia of the Vecio Fritolin, is a good place to grab a quick bite. Or nip around the back of Palazzo Grassi to Palazzina Grassi, with extravagant decor by Philippe Starck. The groundfloor bar is a wild (though not cheap) place for a drink.

Price advice: 

A ticket for Palazzo Grassi costs €15 (10 reductions); a ticket for Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana costs €20 (€14 reductions).

More information on Palazzo Grassi:

Price guide:
Architectural site, Art gallery, Landmark / monument
Campo San Samuele, San Marco 3231, Venice
041 5231680
Months open:
All year round
Opening times:
10am-7pm. Closed Tue. Open during exhibitions only; hours are subject to change.
Free tags / Keywords:
Contemporary art

Have you been to Palazzo Grassi? Would you recommended it?