The Peggy Guggenheim Collection - Modern Art Museum in Venice
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The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is Italy's leading museum for early twentieth-century European and American Art. It is housed in 'Palazzo Venier dei Leoni', on the Grand Canal, the residence of the late Peggy Guggenheim.
The gallery was opened in 1951 by Solomon R. Guggenheim, a rich American businessman and art collector. The museum hosts Peggy Guggenheim's personal collection of twentieth-century art, but also works from other collections as well as temporary exhibitions.
'Palazzo Venier dei Leoni' is an unfinished palazzo and is indeed known by Venetians as 'the unfinished building'. Construction works began in 1748 under the architect Lorenzo Boschetti (who also designed the Church of San Barnaba) but for reasons still not fully known, they ceased after completion of only the ground floor. It is quite probable that funds simply ran out, but other sources suggest that it was the powerful Corner family, whose palazzo was opposite it across the Grand Canal, opposed the construction of an edifice that would have been bigger and grander than their own. Perhaps instead works interruption was due to problems with foundations. Indeed the gothic palazzo formerly standing next to it had to be demolished in the early 20th century due to the deep foundations laid for Palazzo Venier dei Leoni itself.
Then there is also the mystery of the lions and it is not sure why the building is associated with 'leoni'. Some say a lion was once kept in the garden but it seems more likely that the name comes from the lion heads carved in Istrian stone, decorate the palazzo's facade at water level.