Gallery view of Glory of Venice exhibition

Exhibition Design Inspired by Venetian Art, Streets, Canals & Churches

When visitors step into Glory of Venice: Masterworks of the Renaissance, many have expressed how they feel transported to Venice—through the rich colors, the music, the atmospheric details, murals, and of course, through the artworks. This kind of immersive experience is a hallmark of the Denver Art Museum’s exhibition design and planning, where every detail of the gallery space is a thoughtful exercise in how to enhance the visitor experience.

Read below to see how our exhibition planning team created a space that best serves the artworks and evokes the special atmosphere of Venice.

Layout

The exhibition includes oversized and small, jewel-like paintings that beg a closer look, so the gallery spaces required a varied cadence, alternating between intimate sections and larger spaces where paintings have more breathing room. The exhibition planning team also wanted the layout to call to mind the unexpected perspectives and surprises one might find wandering through the narrow calles, or streets, of Venice. The resulting layout includes meandering curves, sharp corners, intimate nooks, take-your-breath-away sight lines. No two spaces are exactly alike.

Gallery view of Glory of Venice exhibition
The red and white checkered flooring is directly inspired by the floor of the Church of Sant’Antonio di Castello, shown in a painting by Vittore Carpaccio. Image credit: Gallery view of Glory of Venice: Masterworks of the Renaissance. Pompeo Girolamo Batoni, The Triumph of Venice, 1737, Oil on canvas, 68 5/8 x 112 5/8 in. (174.3 x 286.1 cm), North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh: Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, GL.60.17.60.

Architectural Details & Murals

The dramatic entry to the exhibition includes a large, architectural element that references the loggia of the Ducal Palace and the Ca’ d’Oro on the Grand Canal, with its quatrefoil windows and arches. It frames a wide, beautiful photographic mural of the Venetian lagoon at dusk where visitors can point out iconic buildings in the background, including the campanile, or bell tower, in St. Mark’s Square.

As visitors make their way into the first main gallery section called “Grounded in Gold,” they may realize this intimate section is designed to evoke a private chapel or other sacred space with its altar-like structure and large gold ring crowning the space. Other surprises lie ahead, including architectural portals announcing new gallery sections, and a large photographic mural that helps transport the visitor right into a gondola in a narrow, light-filled canal.

Gallery view of Glory of Venice exhibition
The wall colors include a rich Venetian red and a deep teal that perfectly complement the intense blue of the Virgin Mary’s mantle in many of the Madonna and Child paintings, and a soft green that sets off the sensitive tones and unifying light so characteristic of Venetian Renaissance painting.

Color and Pattern

In addition to wall colors, there are other direct design inspirations—the textile patterns used throughout the exhibition are directly taken from fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italian textile designs, while the font used on the labels and section panels is called “Rialto,” named after the iconic Venetian bridge and based on Venetian Renaissance typefaces.

These are just some of the design elements that help make Glory of Venice: Masterworks of the Renaissance so special. We hope you will visit the exhibition and be transported to Venice.

Lauren Thompson is interpretive specialist for western American, European and American art, in the learning and engagement department at the Denver Art Museum. She recommends that visitors don’t miss the Her Voice iPad salon in Her Paris, where one can explore the personal stories, letters, and diaries of the women artists in the exhibition.