Palazzo Mocenigo is located in the district of Santa Croce in Venice, situated just off of the Grand Canal. The closest widely recognizable landmark is the Church of San Stae, which the palazzo is right behind. From the seventeenth century until the middle of the twentieth century, the Palazzo Mocenigo was the official residence of the San Stae portion of the Mocenigo family, a patrician family in Venice that produced seven Doges (Venetian governors) over the course of about 350 years.
The Palazzo Mocenigo is a massive gothic construct that was largely rebuilt in the seventeenth century, and has been regularly renovated and rehabilitated over the years since then. In 1945, the last known descendant of the family, Alvise Nicolo bequeathed the Palazzo Mocenigo to the state to be used as a gallery of art. In 1985, the Palazzo Mocenigo Museum was also given the designation of Study Centre of the History of Fabrics and Costumes. As such, the Palazzo Mocenigo Museum contains a vast collection of ancient fabrics and textiles as well as an extensive library dedicated to the history of not only fabrics and costumes, but also to the study and history of fashion in general.
Today, you have the option of taking interesting Palazzo Mocenigo tours, which give you access to an array of amazing costumes from the likes of the Venice Guggenheim, Correr, and Cini collections. The library is located on the piano nobile (or main floor), where you will also be impressed with the frescoed ceilings, fine furnishings, and elaborate décor. When you take the Palazzo Mocenigo tours, you will be opened up to the opulent world of eighteenth-century costume and clothing design in the city of Venice. Italy has long been known as one of the most important fashion capitols of the world, and spending some time at the Palazzo Mocenigo Museum makes it much easier to understand how it was that Italy came to such prominence in terms of designing and innovating new fashions that would resonate around the whole of Europe. The aristocratic, wealthy classes in Venice would have required elaborate costumes and clothing for social gatherings. In the same way that the patrician families in Venice would vie for the most impressive palazzo along the Grand Canal, there was also competition when it came to who had the most impressive, and en vogue fashion.
Palazzo Mocenigo tours should be arranged in advance to ensure availability. This does not, however, mean that the tours are that expensive at all. The Palazzo Mocenigo Museum is fairly small, featuring a number of staterooms, the library, and various exhibits that feature the costumes and a range of other displays dealing with fabrics and textiles. If you have any interest in fashion whatsoever, you should definitely look into taking part in one of the Palazzo Mocenigo tours. If you are curious about the development and advancement of fashion in Italy over the centuries, it is an indispensable learning experience, as well as a fun way to spend a couple hours in the morning or afternoon.
Image: Kevin H. (Flickr)