Punta della Dogana

Punta della Dogana

View of Punta della Dogana, facing northwest
Established 6 June 2009 (2009-06-06)[1]
Location Venice, Italy
Coordinates 45°25′52″N 12°20′10″E / 45.431°N 12.336°E / 45.431; 12.336Coordinates: 45°25′52″N 12°20′10″E / 45.431°N 12.336°E / 45.431; 12.336
Type Art museum
Owner City of Venice
Website www.palazzograssi.it/en

Punta della Dogana is an art museum in Venice's old customs building, the Dogana da Mar. It also refers to the triangular area of Venice where the Grand Canal meets the Giudecca Canal, and its collection of buildings: Santa Maria della Salute, Patriarchal Seminary of Venice, and Dogana da Mar at the triangle's tip.

Geography and history

View of Punta della Dogana by Francesco Guardi, c. 1782

Punta della Dogana is located between the Grand and Giudecca Canals at the tip of an island in the Dorsoduro district.[2] Adjacent to each other are the Dogana da Mar, Patriarchal Seminary, and Santa Maria della Salute.[3] It is diagonal from the Piazza San Marco.[2]

The point was used for docking and customs as early as the beginning of the 15th century.[3] The temporary structures built to store merchandise and customs workers were replaced by the Punta della Dogana, whose construction began in 1677.[3]

Dogana da Mar

Sculpture atop the Dogana building

The museum's art is housed in and around the Dogana da Mar building.[2] It was built between 1678 and 1682 as a customs house.[2] The arcade styles reflect their construction in different eras.[3] Atop the building are statues of Atlas, built to represent the supremacy of the Republic of Venice.[2] The two slaves hold a golden ball upon which Giuseppe Benoni's Fortune stands.[3] The 17th-century statue turns in the wind.[3] The last renovation of the building was done by Alvise Pigazzi in 1838.[3]


The building was restored by Tadao Ando from January 2008 to March 2009, funded by François Pinault,[4] a French billionaire and art collector.[2] He signed a 33-year agreement with the city.[5] The building had been empty for decades prior, with failed plans to turn it into apartments or a hotel.[2] Dogana da Mar's stuccoed brick exterior was restored without additions, and is the only part of the original structure left intact.[2] Cosmetic imperfections and the stucco were repaired, and bad areas were reinforced with stainless steel anchors, but areas with visible brick were left exposed.[2] The interiors were left bare without surface treatment, and bricks were replaced sparingly.[2] The room partitions from the last two centuries were replaced with parallel, rectangular halls.[2] The roof was replaced by a similar roof with timber gables, with added skylights.[2] The new floors are made of exposed and polished concrete, in some places covered with linoleum.[2] Frank Peter Jäger called these smooth surfaces Ando's trademark, along with glass and steel fixtures that clash with the raw irregularities of the unfinished walls.[2] He added that, for Ando, this combination "symbolizes the union of past, present, and future", the building, his architecture, and the art within it, respectively.[2] Ando wanted to make the western entrance's face out of concrete slabs, but the change was opposed by the city.[2] The renovation cost 20,000,000.[2] Exibart's Jacqueline Ceresoli described the building as having "industrial and minimalist soul" with red brick walls.[4]

Inside of Punta della Dogana after renovation 
Close-up of tip of Punta della Dogana, where Dogana da Mar, the Grand Canale, and the Giudecca Canal touch 
Entrance of museum 


Public statue by Charles Ray at tip of Punta della Dogana
View of Punta della Dogana in 2005, looking southwest, with lamppost at tip

Complex's Elisa Carmichael called Punta della Dogana's Prima Materia show of about 80 works from the Pinault Collection an "absolute must-see" outside of the 2013 Venice Biennale.[6] Exibart's Jacqueline Ceresoli had similar praise for the show.[4]

Pinault commissioned a statue for the tip of Punta della Dogana from Charles Ray upon receiving approval from the city to start the museum.[5] Ray made an eight-foot-tall boy holding a frog by its leg intended as a public sculpture called Boy with Frog.[5] The sculpture's permit was set to be negotiated four times annually.[5] Boy with Frog was originally encased upon the museum's July 2009 opening after protests following its installation.[5] The city moved in early 2013 to replace the statue with a reproduction of the streetlamp once situated there.[5] Its spokesperson said that the sculpture's installation was designed to be temporary.[5] Ray refused an offer to relocate the sculpture to Palazzo Grassi, opting to put the sculpture into storage.[5] Independent curator Francesco Bonami wrote in La Stampa that the removal was "administrative cowardice" and the lamppost represented "cultural darkness".[5][7]


  1. "The history – Punta della Dogana". palazzograssi.it. 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Jäger, Frank Peter (October 26, 2010). Old and New: Design Manual for Revitalizing Existing Buildings. Birkhäuser Architecture. pp. 68–71.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Arte e Storia di Venezia [Art and history of Venice]. Bonechi. 2007. p. 103.
  4. 1 2 3 Ceresoli, Jacqueline (July 20, 2013). "Punta della Dogana e delle meraviglie" [Punta della Dogana and its wonders]. Exibart. Archived from the original on July 23, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Vogel, Carol (May 2, 2013). "'Boy With Frog' to Be Removed in Venice". The New York Times. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  6. Carmichael, Elisa (June 24, 2013). "The Best of the 55th Venice Biennale". Complex. Archived from the original on July 23, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  7. Bonami, Francesco (April 29, 2013). "Venice vs. Huck Finn's Frog: A Contemporary Quest For True Civilization". La Stampa. Archived from the original on July 23, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2013.


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