Peggy Guggenheim was one of the greatest art collectors of the 20th century, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, located in her former home on the Grand Canal, a 1750s-era palazzo on the Dorsoduro — Venice’s artistic enclave — is truly a must-see.
Guggenheim was a discerning collector of Cubist, Abstract and Surrealist art and a gallery owner who first championed then-newcomers such as Max Ernst, Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock.
Just off the museum’s entrance, the quiet sculpture garden provides a serene escape. Once inside the villa, look up to see one of many Alexander Calder sculptures and then take in the view of the Grand Canal through the wide plate glass windows. The modernist masterpieces and stark minimal interiors contrast Venice’s gothic excess.
Each room features a theme: Cubist works by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque are among those that fill the former dining room. Guggenheim’s bedroom still has the sculptural headboard designed by Alexander Calder. In the temporary exhibition galleries, 40 metal sculptures by Robert Rauschenberg are on display until Sept. 20. Stops at the small bookshop and the cafe with leafy outdoor patio complete the tour.
Peggy Guggenheim was a niece of Solomon Guggenheim (of Gotham’s Guggenheim), and the collection is maintained under the auspices of the Guggenheim Foundation. On Sept. 9, take a break from the festival as museum officials will host a luncheon on the famed villa’s rooftop terrace, which overlooks the Grand Canal, for a prime view of the Regata Storica — the annual competition between gondoliers.