Venice has long been a feared maritime power in the Mediterranean Sea. The so-called Arsenale (which is now used to military purposes, being closed to the public at large) was one of the chief contributors to the republic’s naval reputation, being deemed for centuries the largest shipbuilding complex in Europe. In a way, the Naval History Museum tells, at least fragmentarily, the story of the medieval maritime glory of La Serenissima.

The museum was founded immediately after World War One, in 1919, but the idea of setting up a venue of this kind occurred in the 17th century when, even if Venice was undergoing a tragic economic decline, it still had its past reputation to latch onto. The authorities back then in charge with Arsenale took the decision of founding the so-called “House of Models”, meant to display the models used in shipbuilding. The collections of this old venue were, in the course of history, moved from one place to another and even impaired due to the unfortunate political and military circumstances (such as the Napoleonic occupation or the brief Austrian rule). For a brief period the House of Models was sheltered in the very Arsenale, but at present its collections are housed by a former granary in Campo San Biasio, in Castello, in close proximity to Arsenale (duly restored for the needs of a museum venue).

The unchallenged highlight of the Naval History Museum refers to the collection of scale models once used for shipbuilding (the model of the historical bucintoro, the barge of the Venetian doges, seems to be the most eye catching exhibit). The collection of real-size historical ships (located in the Ships Pavilion) is also worth the public’s attention. The inner patrimony of the museum also comprises items with documentary value which retrace the history of shipbuilding in Venice.

Naval History Museum (Museo Storico Navale)
2148, Riva San Biasio, 30122, Castello, Venice, Italy
0039 041 2441399
0039 041 5200276
Opening hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:45am to 1:30pm; Saturdays: 8:45am to 1:00pm; closed on Sundays
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