Since 1895, Venice has been the city that hosts La Biennale, one of the biggest and most prestigious contemporary arts expositions in the world. By way of its name, La Biennale is supposed to happen every two years. However, as the expo has grown over the years to include dance, music, theater, and more, the timing of La Biennale has become quite elastic although the main art expo is still held every two years.
What is the Venice Biennale Art Expo?
The main part of the Venice Biennale - the forum that showcases contemporary works from artists all over the world - takes place from June to November every other year in odd-numbered years. The main site of the Biennale is the Giardini Pubblici (the Public Gardens), where permanent pavilions for more than 30 countries have been set up for the occasion. Other exhibitions, performances, and installations associated with the Biennale art expo also take place around the city in various art spaces, museums, and galleries.
In addition to the arts expo, the Biennale umbrella includes a dance series, a kids' carnival (usually occurring in February), a contemporary music festival, a theater festival, and the Venice International Film Festival, held in September on the Venice Lido. The film festival, founded in 1932, is the oldest international film festival in the world and it draws many famous actors, directors, and other members of the film industry.
So if you're in Venice in September, be on the look out for celebrities.
Since 1980, the Biennale has added the design world of architecture to its repertoire. The Architecture Biennale is held every two years in even-numbered years and has become very popular. So you're likely to find some kind of Biennale events almost any time of year.
Where to See Biennale Art Works
If you're visiting Venice when La Biennale is not in session, you can still see a lot of the works that have been featured in past expositions. Visit the Palazzo Corner della Ca' Grande, where you can see displays of past exhibits and Biennale catalogs. Additionally, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, located in a grand villa in the Dorsoduro district, contains a treasure trove of contemporary art works from many artists that have been featured in past Biennales.
Venice Biennale Art Expo Visiting Information
The Public Gardens, where the main expo is held, are on Viale Trento in the eastern part of the city called the Castello district (see Venice Sestiere Map), where you'll also find the Arsenale and Naval History Museum. There are two vaporetto stops, Giardini and Giardini Biennale. The Public Gardens were originally created by Napoleon who drained marsh land to create the park and have hosted the Biennale since 1895.
Tickets are needed to enter the main expo and passes for more than one day or event are also available. Some events, exhibitions, and venues also require purchase of a ticket but some free events and exhibitions are also held.
For more information on La Biennale, including exact dates of all of its different installments, visit the La Biennale website.
In depth information on up-and-coming artists, which includes a blog, a forum, and video, is also available on the La Biennale Channel.
This article has been edited and updated by Martha Bakerjian.