Our first week in the Warwick University Venice Art History program involved orienting ourselves with a few of the city’s library facilities. Many of the libraries are accessible to the public, making them a great resource not only for Italian students, but students studying abroad, as well as visitors to the city with an interest in art, architecture and design. More information on services, location and opening hours can be found on the libraries’ websites.
Biblioteca Area Umanistica (BAUM), Universita Ca’ Foscari Venezia
Palazzo Malcanton-Marcora, Dorsoduro
Located in Dorsoduro neighbourhood, the Library of the Humanities (BAUM) is accessible to Ca’ Foscari University students, researchers, as well as international undergraduate and post-graduate students. With a day pass, visitors to BAUM are able to a access the collection of more than 300, 000 items, including serials and academic monographs, dictionaries, historical sources, encyclopaedias, archives and other reference works for Italian studies, Philosophy, History, Art, Archaeology, Classics, Epigraphy, Social Science, Linguistics, and works by Greek and Latin authors.
Biblioteca della Biennale, La Biennale di Venezia
Padiglione Centrale, Giardini di Castello
The Biennale Library, which recently opened in 2009, is located in the historic Central Pavilion in the Giardini. The library is a great resource for students and researchers studying contemporary art and for attendees of the Venice Biennale looking to enrich their visit to the exhibition. The two-level structure accommodates 134,000 books, catalogues, monographs, essays, and series of publications featuring all sections of the Venice Biennale, including Visual Arts, Architecture, Cinema, Music, Theatre, and Dance. The library also has the most complete collection of exhibitions catalogues dating back to the first Art Exhibition in 1895, with over 70,000 volumes in their collection today.
Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee (ASAC), La Biennale di Venezia
Parco Scientifico Tecnologico VEGA, Porto Marghera
Although we did not visit the archives as a class, the Historical Archives of the Contemporary Arts (ASAC), also run by the Venice Biennale, is a great resource for students, researchers and critics. The ASAC is only a short distance away from the Biennale Library in the Parco Scientifico Tecnologico VEGA in Porto Marghera. Their collection comprises documents, photographs, catalogues, press reviews, newspapers clippings, posters, magazines, sheet music and an audiovisual library relating to the Visual Arts, Architecture, Cinema, Dance, Music and Theatre sectors of the Venice Biennale. Thematic exhibitions featuring archival material are set up every year in the Ca’ Giustinian building.
Fondazione Querini Stampalia
Santa Maria Formosa, Castello
Palazzo Querini Stampalia hosts a library, museum, and temporary exhibition spaces inside a sixteenth century palace, restored by Venetian architect Carlo Scarpo in 1963. Not far from San Marco Square, the building was created through the wishes of Count Giovanni, the last descendent of the Querini Stampalia family. The library contains around 350,000 volumes including documents, manuscripts, papers, maps, and geographical charts dating back to the sixteenth century. It also holds a modern collection of books and periodicals accessible to the public. On display in the museum is an impressive collection of eighteenth century and neoclassical furniture, porcelain, bisques, sculptures, globes, over four hundred paintings dating from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries, Murano chandeliers and mirrors, and fabrics woven from antique patterns. After a visit to the bookshop which offers a variety of books on contemporary art, design and photography, visitors to the Palazzo Querini Stampalia can enjoy a coffee in the cafe which owes its internal garden design to Carlo Scarpa.
Universita Iuav di Venezia (IUAV)
Tolentini, Santa Croce
The main library located in the Santa Croce neighbourhood contains the most exhaustive collection of books and magazines concerning twentieth-century architecture and planning and includes more than 1700 periodicals published in Italy and abroad. The university’s collection has become an important resource not only for the university, but for teaching and research nationwide. The library has been recently focusing on acquiring material relating to the newly founded Faculty of Arts & Design, which includes volumes on design, visual arts and theatre. Information about the history of the city of Venice itself can be found among the publications in the “G. Astengo” library located in the same building. The Tolentini building is also home to the Iuav Video Library, which has a collection of audiovisual material on architecture, urban planning, design, the arts and theatre, as well as the Library and Map Library of the Interdepartmental Centre for Surveying, Mapping and Processing Services, which contains an invaluable map collection of Venice, Italy, and other countries.
All images courtesy of the respective institutions.