Giovanni Querini Stampalia, the forward-looking venetian count that donate all his belongings to the city

14 December 2021

Venezia, 9 dicembre 2021 - With its 150 years of history is one of the most ancient foundations in Italy. Created by a venetian man, considered as forward-looking and pioneer of a system that nowadays can be defined as “welfare”.  This is the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, a rare example of a house transformed into a library and a museum upon the will of the count Giovanni Querini Stampalia. An historical and cultural heritage, shaped by open-mindedness, a project that continues to be followed and taken care of.

Houses, soil, art objects, collections, furniture, coins and prints: in 1869, Giovanni Querini, last descendant of the Querini’s family, decided to leave all his belongings to the city and its citizens, in order to allow them to find a comfortable place in which study and meet, to talk about science and culture.

On the main façade, shines the work of art of Joseph Kosuth who, together with words and images triggers visitors’ thoughts over the elements that communicate with the architecture, creating a connection between the past and the modern times. A connection that, despite the several restoration works signed by Carlo Scarpa, Maria Botta, Valeriano Sartor, Michele De Lucchi, hasn’t melted. Indeed, they have transformed the palace into a school of architecture. Here, at the Fondazione Querini nothing is out of tune, everything seems to be in harmony instead, between past and future, as if time couldn’t put an end to a heritage that carries deep and important values for the citizens of Venice.

The Querini has many important supporters, between 200 and 300, and more than 100 volunteers that provide their own time and their passion for the Fondazione. Donations and legacies also play a key role in the life of the Fondazione Querini. To name a few, there are the photographic heritage of Mark Smith, Luigi Ferrigno, Graziano Arici and Luigi Ghirri.

“Venetians love this place and so very often they decide to give to the Fondazione their belongings as a gift, in order to support and enrich our collections – underlines the director Marigusta Lazzari – among the donors we can also find a foundation employee, who decided to leave all to this place”.

The Fondazione Querini is a place of discussion, aware of the changes.  A place that communicates with venetians, especially with the new generations. This concept follows the spirit of its founder: to add to the city and not to replace.

“The Querini’s of Santa Maria Formosa was one of the 12 families that founded the city of Venice, and so one of the most important that, since the beginning, had an important role in the government of the city of Venice, although it never had a Doge as a consequence to the Bajamonte Tiepolo’s conspiracy in 1310 – explains Lazzari –. The palace as we can see it now, is the result of a restoration project on the occasion of Francesco Querini and Paola Priuli’s wedding in 1528, when new structures previously built were added to the main structure.” Today at the ground floor we can find a services area while at the first one the library and, at the second one a museum-house in which original collections of the family are displayed. Moreover, on the third floor the collection of the Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia is permanently displayed.


“Giovanni Querini was born two years after the fall of the Republic and so, he used to live in a very poor Venice, with huge social problems – continues the director -. He used to be an extraordinary man, of great sensitivity and very attentive to society. Eclectic and curious, a person that studied several subjects and eventually graduated in law, although he focused on managing his belongings and his family’s. At that time, he purchased in France machines that could cure specific diseases and gave them to the Ospedale Civile (Hospital) of Venice. He also was a supporter of the first experiment of public electric lighting in the city, as well as the first to provide policies to reduce the cost of textile work in the Treviso area.

Giovanni never got married nor had children, and six months before dying decided to donate all his belongings to the city by creating the Fondazione, to allow a greater number of people to have access to them. He believed that the improvement of societies laid in culture, information, training, and study. His will was that his rooms had to be left open to researchers that had to study comfortably. Moreover, services offered by the Fondazione had to be considered as additional to the ones that the city of Venice already provided. This is the mission of the Fondazione and the spirit that still guides us”.

Century after century, the heritage of the Fondazione has been partially damaged by historical events, although the Querini remains a unique treasure, considered as a museum of environment, being this a rare example of venetian family private collection, which have left a permanent sign in the city that this year celebrates its 1600 years.

What the family owned and used – wall mirrors, clocks, furniture, paintings, and pottery – is displayed on the second floor and reflects a style that has been handed down to the family descendants.

The foundation has an average of almost 50 thousand visitors per year, enjoying the masterpieces of Tiepolo, Bellini, Palma il Vecchio and il Giovane and, last but not least, an extraordinary collection of 30 works of art by Pietro Longhi which represent daily life activities.

Although Giovanni didn’t have any blood heir in his life, we can say that in one century and a half of history, he has had many daughters and sons anyway.

“This place has always represented the intentions and desires of Giovanni – concludes the director – that has entrusted to the Fondazione the duty to continue his project and for this reason, we feel responsible for continuing it for our community”.