At the Arsenale with the Biennale
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A programme of free guided tours
02 | 18 | 2014
Arsenale (Venice Biennale spaces) 22 February > 31 March 2014
A new feature of this year’s Kids’ Carnival is the initiative At the Arsenale with the Biennale.
Over the Carnival period and beyond, a programme of free guided tours devised to disseminate the history of the Arsenale and the spaces used by the Venice Biennale will offer the opportunity to learn the stories of these monumental sites, the exhibits and the recent restoration and refurbishment work.
The guided tours will take place from 22 February to 31 March 2014 (respecting the schedule for setting up the 14th International Architecture Exhibition), on Fridays , Saturdays and Sundays at fixed times, and on weekdays for schools and organized groups upon request, subject to prior booking.
The visits will last 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The Venice Arsenale
The Arsenale is the largest industrial complex prior to the Industrial Revolution. Spanning an area of forty acres, in busy times it employed up to 2,000 workers per day. It is an important place for Venice, not only because this complex of work sites, factories and warehouses saw the construction of the Venetian fleets, but also because it embodied the economic, political and military power of the city. Construction originally began in the early 1200s on the docksides of the Darsena Vecchia (Old Dock). At the beginning of the fourteenth century it expanded with the building of the new dockyard. In the following century, the Arsenale underwent further transformations due to the growing demands of the Venetian naval and military might. Over time the Arsenale increasingly lost its military importance, leaving space for commercial operations. Between 1876 and 1909 the Arsenale witnessed its last major development with the new facilities built between the Darsena Nuova and the Nuovissima.
Corderie. Stretching over the south side of the Arsenale, built in 1303 and then rebuilt between 1579 and 1585 on a plan by Antonio da Ponte, this building was once used for the manufacturing of ropes, cables and cords. Entirely covered by a wood truss ceiling, it is 316 m. long, 21 m. wide and 9.70 m. high, and is divided into three naves supporting two galleries on the side aisles at a height of seven metres. The exhibition space measures 6,400 square metres.
Artiglierie and Isolotto. Consisting of a long one-storey building dating back to 1560, the Artiglierie(Artillery) occupies a total area of ??3,300 square meters. It originally housed the Arsenale workshops. Next to it, the building of the Isolotto is a former warehouse measuring 900 square meters.
Gaggiandre, Tese, Giardino delle Vergini. The Gaggiandre, two great shipyards constructed between 1568 and 1573 on a plan attributed to Jacopo Sansovino, overlook the inner basin. Past the Tese, partly built in the sixteenth century, is the Giardino delle Vergini (Garden of the Virgins), a fascinating green area.
La Biennale di Venezia at the Arsenale
La Biennale di Venezia first made use of the rope factories at the Arsenale in 1980, for the First International Architecture Exhibition curated by Paolo Portuguese, who set up the Strada Novissima precisely in the Corderie. Later, the same spaces were used during the Art Exhibitions for the Open section devoted to young artists.
Under Paolo Baratta’s presidency in 1999, by concession of the Navy – Ministry of Defence, the south-east side of the Arsenale undergoes a functional recovery.
The concession area spans a total of about 50,000 square meters of which 25,000 square metres are covered area. Here stand some of the most important buildings of the Arsenale, dating back to the fifteenth century (Corderie, Artiglierie, Tese del Cinquecento, Tese dell'Isolotto).
The objective was to make these spaces accessible and functional for hosting activi