A group of international philanthropists has announced a $12 million renovation plan for the Jewish Museum and three historic synagogues in Venice, to be completed in time for commemorations in 2016 marking the 500th anniversary of the creation of the Venice Ghetto.
The chairman and vice chair of the Venice Heritage Council (VHC), who will lead international fund-raising for the project — Thor Equities President/CEO Joseph Sitt and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg — unveiled the plan on Monday with a news release:
The restoration will both ease traffic and flow through the museum as well as restore the centuries-old Synagogues.
Specifically, the $12 million undertaking will repair and reinforce walls and structures through the entire building, restore gilded wooded panels bearing carved biblical features, and fix numerous adornments and design elements that have suffered the weight of a half-millennium.
The statement said that Renata Codello, Head of Italian Ministry of Culture office in Venice, and Venice’s “official architect” under the UNESCO Program for Venice, will oversee the project.
Founded in 1953, the Venice Jewish Museum includes in its display route three of the city’s five synagogues, which date back to the 16th century (Schola Canton, the Great German Schola and the Italian Schola) . Two historic synagogues in Venice — the Levantine and the Spanish — are still used by the small Jewish community. All five have ornate sanctuaries sited on the upper floors of ordinary-looking buildings.
The news release quoted VHCl Director Toto Bergamo Rossi as saying:
In addition to the structural revitalization of the synagogues, we are vastly improving and upgrading the museum space, adding space and streamlining room-to-room flow to accommodate the incredible interest in this piece of history. This is a huge component of European culture and it can’t be ignored.
Earlier this year, the World Monuments Fund announced a grant (from the David Berg Foundation) to carry out restoration of the The Schola Canton, which was constructed in 1532 and is displayed as part of Jewish Museum tours. The WMF announcement said this structure “has hosted millions of visitors and is now in need of repairs to ensure its continuing role in Jewish heritage tourism and education. WMF’s project at this site will include cleaning, repairing, consolidating, and re-gilding Schola Canton’s intricately carved wooden sanctuary.” The WMF had already funded restoration of the Schola Canton in the 1979s.
Venice also has a historic Jewish cemetery, on the Lido, whose old part dates back to the 14th century.
2 comments on “$12 Million Refurbishment Slated for Venice Jewish Museum, Synagogues”
Thanks Diane. Wonderful news!!!
Let me know if I can assist.
I staged a version of The Merchant of Venice in the setting of the Venice Ghetto and my take was to have the dress rehearsal witnessed by a Warsaw Ghetto survivor. In this way I connected the two ghettos. I also added new texts to take the play on a version that challenges Shakespeare’s. It is The Shylock Question published by Oberon Books.