This afternoon I went to the recently-reopened Museo di Storia Naturale in the Fondaco dei Turchi. They left the dinosaur room open while they were remodeling the rest, so I drew there about a year ago (see Oct 31, 2008, dinosaur tag). When I went to the opening in February, it was so crowded that they weren't letting people upstairs in the galleries. Now, the museum is only open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. I remembered this morning that it was a possible place to go today. The itinerary through the museum begins with the old Ligabue dinosaur room. Then you go into a section on fossils that traces the evolution of life on earth. The installation here is very busy in its architecture and displays, light projections, theatrically-but-badly lit labels, and non-stop background soundtrack of new age flute sounds, drums, animal calls, and then "ethnic" music. Just when I was feeling really disappointed, I came to the section on Venetian explorers. It consisted of grand rooms filled with the loot and carnage of 19th century Venetians who went to Africa to find the source of the Nile, and to hunt big game. Two of these rooms were so amazing, I had to stop and draw. Here is one of the two drawings I made on site
and here it is again as I watercolored it at home to show more how the room was. It was arranged as a study/sanctum with beautiful Venetian glass chandelier and hung with an infinite number of animal trophies. But I almost fainted from the thought of the slaughter it represented. The gorilla attached to the wall was shocking, and I realized it was like seeing a real crucifixion.
After the explorers rooms, there is a display on Wunderkammers, and then a long hall above the portico (the part you see on the Grand Canal) filled with a vast number of cabinets with skeletons, insects, shells, fish displayed in the old fashioned way. In a way, this museum is more a history of natural history museums than teaching much about science. But it is still very interesting indeed.