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  Cornell University

Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Venice — Punta della Dogana – Palazzo Grassi Art Museum

Last week, our class went on a seven-day field trip to explore sites in Northern Italy. Our itinerary included a three-day stay in Venice, where we visited the Punta della Dogana – Palazzo Grassi Art Museum. The Punta della Dogana is the triangular area of Venice that separates the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal; views of the surrounding canals are always present in the interior on two of the three sides of the triangular-shaped museum. The museum itself is located within Venice’s Dogana del Mar building (constructed in the late 1670s), and the interior went through a renovation in 2008-2009 following the design of the renowned architect Tadao Ando.

The museum contained some fantastic contemporary artworks by a variety of artists. A list of artists in the current exhibition, curated by Caroline Bourgeois and Michael Govan, can be found on the museum’s website.

I have actually seen a few of the displayed works in books and blogs prior to the visit, but seeing them in person in the Ando-designed interior added a lot to the experience. There was a variety of spaces and lighting present in the museum; every space showcased different works in different ways. The colors of the museum’s interior were modest and comforting, and the quietness of the gallery allowed the dialogue between the art & observer to be the most important conversation taking place.



The ceiling of the center gallery space was quite high, and there were multiple entry points into this area- each lead to a new artwork with a new perspective.
The ceiling of the center gallery space was quite high, and there were multiple entry points into this area- each led to a new artwork with a new perspective.

Photograph showcasing “Phase of Nothingness – Water” by Nobuo Sekine. This dark entity in the gallery area was something of a focal point in the space. Upon closer inspection, the water in the work reflected the ceiling of the gallery and added a new dimension and movement to the recognition of the piece. Three Cornell students can be seen sketching in the background.

The ceiling drops, a shift in scale from the previous gallery area (shown in the previous photographs) and creates an intimate space to showcase “Crystal Skull” by Sherri Levine. This work occupies the entirety of the room.

The natural lighting has a way of leading you to the next space


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All photographs by Erin Soygenis.

Our stay at the museum was quite short, for our class had quite a lot of places to visit that same day! For me, after seeing so many ancient churches and ruins, seeing such contemporary artworks in a rather newly-renovated museum was quite refreshing. The visit to the museum was absolutely worthwhile, and seeing the architecture and artworks come together so elegantly was both exciting and inspirational.


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