According to tradition, Venice was founded on March 25, 421. This exhibition in the Doge's Palace celebrates the city's 1600 years and its many transformations.
Vittore Carpaccio (c. 1465-c. 1525), Leone di San Marco andante "da tera e da mar", 1516, oil and tempera on canvas, 130 x 368 cm/51.2 x 144.8 in. Fondazione Muve - Venezia, Palazzo Ducale
The paintings, sculptures, textiles, jewelry and documents assembled for the occasion are certainly interesting, but the cursory vision of the subject in question finally undermines their legitimacy. The stages presented—the "chosen" city, the city of merchants and the sea, the urban splendors, the calamities of the plague and lastly the city of festivals—merely reiterate the content of tourist guides. Moreover, the framework confuses legend, myth and the past: this date of origin, for example, which is certainly symbolic but nonetheless arbitrary and fictitious, is not compared with facts that are more in line with the historical record. The extraordinary wealth of Venice and its trading, financial and military power is described in a linear, hagiographical way. At the end, its presentation as the world capital of culture undoubtedly demands some nuance. And then a question comes to mind: why is the history of an extraordinary, unique city almost twenty centuries old treated in such a perfunctory way? And again, there is the confusion between museum programming and the promotion of tourism, and the growing submission of cultural organizations to the dictates of marketing. At a critical time, the problematic underside of exhibitions takes center stage with a strange tenacity.