Thursday's Child: Peggy Guggenheim collection, Venice, Italy

Thursday, October 11, 2012



Large museums can be a wonder.  They often have huge collections spread over multiple wings, and a number of important works of art that can’t be missed.  But sometimes for those very reasons, they can be overwhelming.  Some of my favourite museums have been smaller ones, where I can take my time, slow down from speed-browse gait, and really reflect on the art that I’m seeing.

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice is one such intimate museum, and I fell in love with it the first minute I stepped through the gates. 


Peggy Guggenheim was a member of the New York Guggenheim dynasty, and her life was full of people and events that were truly larger than life.  Her father was one of the victims on the Titanic. As a young woman, Peggy lived in London and Paris, where she amassed a large collection of art.  She met Samuel Beckett at a dinner party hosted by James Joyce; she and Beckett had a brief affair, but his biggest influence on her was encouraging her to focus on modern art.  Peggy intended to open a museum in Paris, but fled the city just a few days before the Nazis invaded.  She was instrumental in promoting the careers of a number of artists, most notably Jackson Pollock, and married the German painter Max Ernst in 1941.

After divorcing Ernst a few years later, she moved to Venice and settled herself and her collection in a beautiful palazzo.  After her death, the building was converted into a museum, and the gallery opened to the public.


One of my favourite elements of her collection is the outdoor sculpture garden.  The sculpture at the top of this post, Lion by Mirko Basaldella, reflects the name of her home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni. 


And the most popular feature of the garden is Wish Tree, designed by Yoko Ono.  This tree is covered in pieces of paper on which people have written their wishes.  Reading through earlier entries revealed a list that ranged from the extravagant to the poignant.

I didn’t hang a wish on the tree.  But if I had, I might have used it to ask if I might return to this beautiful museum someday.



19 comments:

Bonnie said...

What an interesting life. I too love browsing museums and find I can loose a couple of days while touring. The wish tree...I can only imagine. Thank you for taking us on your visit.

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

What a gorgeous-sounding museum. I'm so sorry that i didn't visit it last time i was in venice! definitely adding it to my to-visit list next time. I especially love the idea of the wish tree.... =)

Jemi Fraser said...

Looks beautiful! I love the wish tree idea - very cool. Might have to try that at school :)

Carol said...

Sounds like a wonderful museum. I love the Guggenheim in NYC. That sounds like a lovely wish, I hope you get to go back!

Valerie said...

I'm slightly enamored with the Lion sculpture...it's something that needs to be studied in order to fully appreciate.

Once again you've introduced to to a place and a piece of history that I was unfamiliar with. Thank you! :)

yummychunklet said...

Sounds like a fun and educational outing!

Medeia Sharif said...

You find the most interesting places around the world. Thank you for sharing this museum with us. Great pictures.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

The first one would give me nightmares. Love the second and third ones.

You go to the coolest places, Beth. :D

Food Gal said...

Me, too -- I prefer small museums. I like that the collection is more edited -- just the very best stuff. Plus, when you go to a major museum, it's almost like you feel guilty if you don't see every single little thing even if it takes hours.

profiterolesandponytails said...

I can see why that would be your wish. Looks like a place you could spend a lot of time exploring and processing all the inspiration.

Monet said...

Beautiful. I love how you take us to so many places that I want to visit! And the wish tree is such an interesting and beautiful installation. Thank you for sharing!

Angie's Recipes said...

Wonderful. I feel like I were there with you.

Claudia said...

I have heard about this museum and have never made it. Might make my own wishing tree to get there!

Barbara said...

I've been there a couple times, Beth, and loved it. Such a treat.

Patty said...

Now, I wish we would have made it to this museum-don't know when I will ever get back to this part of the world!

Kathy said...

The wish tree sounds wonderfully delightful! Lovely!

Jess said...

What a neat museum! And I'm sure the wish tree was fun to read through :)

Claire Davis said...

I love art museums, that wish tree sounds really special. At the art museum near us in Raleigh, NC there was a wall where senior citizens wrote their most vivid memory, it was so neat to read the history in their everyday lives. Just reminded me of that for some reason!

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, I really enjoy your posts about the different museums and as I am reading this right now, my kids are leaving for a terrific museum of natural history. We love visiting museums with the kids, on Friday we will visit one in Cologne to see an exhibition about ancient North American Art. I have never visited the Peggy Guggenheim museum but it certainly sounds wonderful!

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