Venice: Lesser-known museums worth visiting

Posted in: Venice Sights


Naval History Museum Venice
A ship model in the Naval History Museum. Photo by Kevin H.

By Monica Cesarato in Venice—

Whenever people visit Venice,  they often visit the city’s best known museums, including the Doge’s Palace, the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Palazzo Grassi. However, because of their popularity, these museums are often very crowded and have long lines that can fatigue even the most tireless Cheapo.

If you want to explore some museums off the beaten path, check out the following recommendations. These lesser-known museums are generally not as crowded as their better known counterparts, meaning you will be able to enjoy the history and beauty of Venice in a much calmer and relaxing way.

Museo Storico Navale (Naval History Museum)
Riva S. Biasio Castello (Vaporetto Stop: Arsenale)
Tel.: +39 (0)41 2441 399
Hours: 8:45 a.m to 1:30 p.m. (Monday to Friday), 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Saturday)
Admission: €1.55 (free for school groups)
Web site

Situated in Campo San Biagio, the Naval History Museum was founded in 1919. The building used to be an old grain warehouse, though at the end of the 17th century, Austrian-ruled Venice decided to use the building to archive ship models from the Arsenale (Venice’s state-owned shipyard).

Together with some adjacent buildings, the museum holds a very large collection of models, original plans, original ships (including some historic gondolas) and much more. A visit to the museum will provide you with a good history of Venice and her powerful naval fleet.

Museo Di Arte Orientale (Oriental Art Museum)
Santa Croce n. 2076 (Vaporetto Stop: San Stae)
Tel.: +39 (0)41 520 0345
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)
Admission: €5.50 (adult), €3.00 (reduced)
Web site

The Oriental Art Museum is situated in the ancient palace of Ca’ Pesaro, which also houses the Modern Art Museum. This museum hosts one of the most important collections of Japanese art of the Edo period.

The Museo Fortuny in Venice

Outside the Museo Fortuny. Photo by gwenflickr.

The collection was a gift from Prince Henry of Bourbon, who traveled throughout Asia in the late 19th century. The museum holds more than 30,000 artifacts, from swords and daggers to a wide selection of Indonesian and Chinese art.

Museo di Storia Naturale (Natural History Museum)
Santa Croce 1730 (Vaporetto Stop: Riva di Biasio)
Tel.: +39 (0)41 275 0206
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Wednesday), 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday)
Admission: €4.50 (adult), €3 (reduced)
Web site

Housed in the Fontego dei Turchi, a 13th-century palace and former warehouse used by Turkish merchants in the 1600s, the Museum of Natural History is one of the most interesting spots on the Grand Canal.

The second floor of the ancient palace is home to the museum, which was recently completely refurbished and re-opened in March, 2010. The collection includes plenty of fossils, along with exhibits on the Venetian lagoon and Giancarlo Ligabue, a Venetian paleontologist who discovered several dinosaur fossils in 1973.

Museo Fortuny
San Marco 3958 (Vaporetto stop: Sant’ Angelo or San Samuele)
Tel.: +39 (0)41 520 0995
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (daily except for Tuesday)
Admission: €9 (adult), €6 (reduced)
Web site

This ancient Gothic palace houses the collection of Mariano Fortuny, a Spanish fashion designer who lived in Venice. The collection includes preserved structures, textiles, tapestry, art collections, precious fabrics and Fortuny’s famous lampshades.

About the author

Monica Cesarato

About the author: Monica Cesarato blogs about life in Venice and the Italian lifestyle at, and offers tours and Italian cooking classes through

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