The ancient Palazzo Venier dei Leoni – an 18th century building – turned into one of the most important modern art museums in Italy.

Besides its temporary exhibitions, the museum boasts one of the most important permanent collections of 20th century art in Europe, including collections of Cubist, Futurist, Surrealist and Abstract Expressionist art, with works by almost 200 artists, including PicassoPollockKandinskyMiròDe Chirico and Dalì.

Located on the left bank of the Grand Canal, just beyond the Church of the Madonna della Salute, you will come across a building that seems strange and unfinished, but which is also elegant and well-tended. The Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, formerly home to the prominent and powerful Venier family, was originally planned to become one of the most sumptuous buildings in Venice.

The construction of the palazzo began around 1748, but was halted after only one floor was completed. Undeterred by its rather sketchy shape and upon seeing the palazzo with its beautiful garden, eccentric American heiress Peggy Guggenheim – a lover of modern art, la dolce vita, and men – fell in love with it. She purchased Palazzo Venier in 1948, and moved in with her collection of contemporary art, subsequently opening both the palazzo and her extraordinary collection of artworks to the public.