Palazzo Ducale

Doge's Palace



An exhibition that entwines history, adventure, science and trade, human affairs and sublime art.

The thousand-year old relationship between Venice and Egypt narrated for the first time ever through more than 300 works.

In the same way that Cleopatra seduced Julius Caesar first and then, fatally, Marcus Antonius, so did the charm of Egypt conquer Rome first and then the entire West.

The exhibition that will be held in Venice from October 1st, 2011 to January 22nd, 2012 in the spectacular Sala dello Scrutinio (Voting Hall) of Palazzo Ducale – the heart and symbol of the Serenissima – illustrates the relationship between “Venice and Egypt” over almost two millennia: from the archaeological findings that testify to relations during the Classic Age, to the opening of the Suez Canal a project that was originally proposed by the Venetian government already at the turn of the  sixteenth century and only accomplished in 1869 against a project designed by Engineer Negrelli from Trento, the then director of the railways of the Lombardo-Veneto nation.

Often extraordinary figures and events fall in between, along a historical leitmotif never before unravelled. From the transfer of Saint Mark’s body from Alexandria in 828 to the nineteenth-century adventures of explorers such as Giambattista Belzoni – one of the fathers of Italian archaeology, and Giovanni Miani – from the vicissitudes of merchants and diplomats on the trail of goods, treasures and lands to oddities regarding humanists and scientists tackling the mysteries of hieroglyphs, of pyramids and of the ancient science of the pharaohs, all accompanied by precious finds, previously unseen texts and works of art which show how the great Venetian masters – from Giorgione to Titian, from Tintoretto to Tiepolo, from Amigoni to Strozzi, from Piranesi to Caffi – imagined Egypt.

A vivid picture of contiguity, familiarity and relations between different worlds emerges from the sections in which the exhibition is laid out: countries of “faraway” languages, traditions, customs and religions which, however, through century-old relationships, were capable of originating what may be defined as a “Mediterranean civilization”.

Such strong relationships that Venice was the only European city that, from the year 1000, had an Arabic name that differed from its original one: “al-bunduqiyya”.

A cultural affair that is therefore complex and multi-faceted, spoken of in an exhibition that will surprise the audience by the findings of the research conducted and by the over 300 exceptional works that were collected for this occasion.

The scientific project – under the curatorship of Enrico Maria Dal Pozzolo of the Università degli Studi of Verona and of Rosella Dorigo and Maria Pia Pedani of the Università Ca’ Foscari of Venice, with the staging project by Michelangelo Lupo – involved almost 70 specialists counting the scientific committee and the cataloguers and experts involved in analysing the material and the respective surveys.

A project promoted by the Municipality of Venice, the Foundation of Civic Museums of Venice and the city Port Authority, with an extended and prestigious promoting committee, which includes the Patriarchy of Venice, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, the Veneto Region and the Province of Venice, the Università Ca’ Foscari of Venice, the IUAV (Venice School of Architecture), the Università degli Studi of Padua and that of Verona, organised by the Foundation of the Civic Museums of Venice in collaboration with Villaggio Globale International, with a rich catalogue published by Skira.