Considered to be one of the most comprehensive and important collections of modern art in the world, and one of the most visited attractions in Venice, this collection of painting and sculpture was assembled by the eccentric and eclectic American expatriate Peggy Guggenheim. She did an excellent job of it, with particular strengths in cubism, European abstraction, surrealism, and abstract expressionism since about 1910. Max Ernst was one of her early favorites (she even married him), as was Jackson Pollock.
Among the major works here are Magritte's Empire of Light, Picasso's La Baignade, Kandinsky's Landscape with Church (with Red Spot), and Pollock's Alchemy. The museum is also home to several haunting canvases by Ernst, Giacometti's unique figures, Brancusi's fluid sculptures, and numerous works by Braque, Dalí, Léger, Mondrian, Chagall, and Miró.
Directly on the Grand Canal, the elegant 18th-century Palazzo Venier dei Leoni was purchased by Peggy Guggenheim in 1949 and was her home in Venice until her death in 1979. The graves of her canine companions share the lovely interior garden with several prominent works of the Nasher Sculpture Garden, while the canal-side patio watched over by Marino Marini's Angel of the Citadel is one of the best spots to simply linger and watch the canal life. A new and interesting book and gift shop and cafe/bistro has opened in a separate wing across the inside courtyard where temporary exhibits are often housed.
Check the tourist office for an update on museum hours; it is often open when many others are closed and sometimes offers a few hours a week of free admission. Don't be shy about speaking English with the young staff working here on internship; most of them are American. They offer free tours in English of the permanent collection on Saturdays at 7pm.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Very Highly Recommended 2010