Peggy Guggenheim Collection ★★

Facing the Grand Canal is Marino Marini's "L'angelo della città" or "The Angel of the City" (1948–50), Peggy Guggenheim, Venice, Italy (Photo by Edal)
Facing the Grand Canal is Marino Marini's 'L'angelo della città' or 'The Angel of the City' (1948–50)

The modern art of the Collezione Peggy Guggenheim

For all its Old Masters and Renaissance masterpieces, Italy is a notable slacker when it comes to great museums of modern art.

Oh, they try hard. They have plenty of spaces and galleries devoted to 20th century and contemporary art. It's just hard to find a collection of any significance.

(This is not really their fault. After ruling art world for some 600 years, Italy became distant second banana to France in the late 19th century, when the Impressionists broke with the by-then ossified artistic traditions, then to the rest of Europe and the U.S. in the 20th century.)

Well, the Peggy Guggenheim in Venice goes a long way toward making up for the deficiency.

In fact, this is one of the world's top modern art museums, installed in Peggy Guggenheim's former residence in Venice, the uncompleted (only the first floor was built) 18th-century Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, right on the Grand Canal.

Based around the late, great artistic patron's personal collection, it is one of the most complete surveys of avant-garde art from the early and mid–20th century.

There are works by her short-time hubby Max Ernst, her greatest discovery Jackson Pollock, as well as pieces by some of her faves: Picasso(his 1911 The Poet is notable), Miró, Mondrian, Brancusi, Duchamp, Kadinsky, Chagall, Dalí, and Giacometti. 

One of Tuscan sculptor Marino Marini's patented man-on-horseback bronzes (a particularly racy version, worthy of a Viagra ad) cools its spurs in the small garden overlooking the Grand Canal.

Photo gallery
  • Facing the Grand Canal is Marino Marini
  • The Grand Canal facade of the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, Peggy Guggenheim, Italy (Photo by TheRunnerUp)
  • A Giacometti in the courtyard, Peggy Guggenheim, Italy (Photo by Lothar John)
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How long does the Peggy Guggenheim take?

If for you this is just a break from cathedral and Old Masters, give it at least 30 minutes.

If you're into 20th century art, plan to spend around an hour an a half.

Free talks

There are free presentations of a single work of art in the collection at 11am and 5pm daily (in Italian or English, depending on guides and public available).

Similar presentations on the life of Peggy Guggenheim and how she made her collection are offered at noon and 4pm daily

Great gift shop and cafe

Like most modern art museums, the Peggy Guggenheim has a particularly seductive gift shop crammed with fun, high-brow souvenirs.

There's also a lovely little terrace cafe overlooking the sculpture garden.

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah

* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).