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La Biennale di Venezia

Since 1895, multi-disciplinary today

The Venice Biennale, which has its offices in Ca' Giustinian (San Marco, 1364/A), has for over a century been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. Ever since its foundation in 1895, it has been in the avant-garde, promoting new artistic trends and organising international events in contemporary arts. It is world-beating for the International Film Festival, for the International Art Exhibition and for the International Architecture Exhibition, and continues the great tradition of the Festival of Contemporary Music, the Theatre Festival, now flanked by the Festival of Contemporary Dance


Although the Venice Biennale began its exhibitions in 1895, it was not until 1928 that it was deemed necessary to open an Archive of contemporary arts, annexed to the Biennale.

The correspondence and documentary material produced were gradually piling up in a warehouse on the first floor of Palazzo Loredan. When the sculptor Antonio Maraini took over the position of General Secretary from Antonio Fradeletto in October 1927, he managed to transfer the material to a small room on the ground floor of the Ducal Palace after a quick restoration. It was from here that the Historic Archive of Contemporary Arts took shape, inaugurating on 8 November 1928, under Domenico Varagnolo.

Varagnolo began gathering books and catalogues from Italy and abroad and contacted artists requesting documentation and photographic material of their work. Both newspaper cuttings regarding artistic events and documents kept at the Town Council were gathered, including letters and famous autographs. Photographers who had worked for years at the Biennale offered their negatives and reproductions of art works, thus initiating the nucleus of the Photo Library.


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