The Fondaco dei Turchi, built in the 1400’s, became in 1621 the workplace and residence allotted to merchants of the Ottoman empire. Fondaco is originally an Arabic word in fact, meaning warehouse. The Venetian State, as always kept a vigilant eye, and appointed a fulltime guardian with the only keys to the building, who made sure no women or children entered the Fondaco, to distract the workers from their work. The building was abandoned by the Turks in awful conditions, and after heavy restructuring, it is now home to the city’s Natural History Museum.
Now we find Palazzo Pesaro: home to the International Gallery of Modern Art and Museum of Oriental Art. This was Longhena’s last project, who received the task from the powerful Pesaro family, and which took him 50 years to build. The duchess Felicita Bevilacqua la Masa, patron of artists, donated this Palace to the city of Venice. The museum was inaugurated in 1902. Thanks also to the Biennale art exhibition which permits a constant flux of works of art. The Museum of Oriental Art is on the top floor, and holds more than 10,000 pieces, of which only a third are on show however.
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