The new museographical layout of Palazzo Mocenigo falls within the cultural strategy launched since my arrival as director of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia in December 2011. In scientific and programmatic terms, this can be divided into three main areas of intervention, each closely linked to the next: the conservation and promotion of the venues and historic collections, the display projects, research.
When I took up my post in the vast, complex museum system of the Fondazione, there were already some sites that were in excellent condition or undergoing interventions of various types. For instance, the museums of Ca’ Rezzonico, del Merletto, di Storia Naturale and the Doge’s Palace itself, which despite requiring constant attention in terms of conservation, is now a monument at the peak of its splendour.
The situation was different for Ca’ Pesaro and Palazzo Mocenigo, which constituted two “subjects” requiring immediate attention. And while in the first case the exclusively museographical problem was brilliantly resolved with the important collaboration also of architect Daniela Ferretti, the San Stae site needed a full-scale conservative restoration, on top of the reorganisation of its collections.
Over recent months, thanks to the special contribution of the internationally renowned architect and set designer, Pier Luigi Pizzi, the museum has undergone a careful operation of museographical restyling which has revitalised and expanded the layout, spaces and collections, radically renewing the museum. Art, textiles, furnishings and an extraordinary new section dedicated to perfume now blend to offer the visitor original perspectives and combinations in an appealing union of cross-fertilisation and stimuli.
Naturally, this constitutes a tribute to history but it is also one to contemporariness forming part of a new “operative philosophy” which while maintaining the same links and viewpoints with regard to the past, now reinterprets them in accordance with the languages and needs expressed by today’s world. Nor could it be otherwise for a sector – the manufacturing sector – which rarely has exhibition space at its disposal in Italy, except perhaps for Palazzo Pitti in Florence.
The Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo has now changed “costume” and – to continue with a perfect metaphor – this without changing its original vocation; quite the opposite, for it has revived it using the history of fashion, textiles and costume of the 18th century as the starting point, establishing itself as a candidate as up-to-date benchmark for collecting in these sectors and to stimulate not only the interest of those working in the sector and of visitors, but also of the industry and entrepreneurship.
It is with these objectives, combined with the Fondazione’s ambition to restore other spaces in the palazzo to dedicate them to collections of 20th-century fashion, that the museum will also embark on a packed programme of meetings, debates, exhibitions, the presentation of objects and works – a number of activities and displays, in short – that will increasingly render it the catch basin of a great collector… with an eye on “contemporariness”.
Gabriella Belli (Director Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia)