Doge's Palace Venice Exhibitions

Doge’s Palace: Marco Polo exhibition 2024

To mark the 700th anniversary of Marco Polo’s death, a major exhibition has been organized at the Doge’s Palace Venice, beginning April 6 and ending Sept. 29, 2024.

The exhibition, titled “The Worlds of Marco Polo. The journey of a 13th-century Venetian merchant“, will include a wide range of objects already in the collection of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, and many treasures from around the world.

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The Marco Polo exhibition at the Doge’s Palace Venice

  • Start date: April 6, 2024
  • End date: September 29, 2024
  • Opening days: daily
  • Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (last admission 6 p.m.)
  • Location: Doge’s Palace, Piazza San Marco 1, 30124 Venice (VE)
  • Price: 8€ (until April 5), 2€ (to be purchased together with San Marco ticket or Museum Pass)
  • Online ticket office: click here

What the Marco Polo exhibition is all about

Explore the captivating Marco Polo exhibition at the Doge’s Palace in Venice from April 6, 2024, commemorating 700 years since his death. The exhibition takes you on a journey through the palace’s rooms, featuring over 300 works from Venetian collections, major Italian and European institutions, and loans from museums in Armenia, China, Qatar, and Canada.

The exhibition showcases paintings, historical artifacts, and literary works of the Venetian merchant. It provides insights into the physical, political, and human geography of Polo’s encounters in Asia, as narrated in “Il Milione.” Emphasizing the significance of cultural openness and curiosity towards the unfamiliar, the exhibition highlights values that remain relevant today.

Structured into various sections, it begins by illustrating Venetian city and merchant life, emphasizing the role of travel in Venetian commercial culture before and after the Polo experience. Extensive attention is given to cartography and the influence of merchants’ tales on this science.

The exhibition delves into the diverse worlds traversed by the Polos, encountering different realms of political, military, artistic, and religious cultures. Marco Polo’s remarkable text recounts various Christian, Muslim, Confucian, Buddhist, Taoist, and Hindu populations.

A section of the exhibition is dedicated to the multilingual dissemination of “Il Milione” and the “myth” of Marco Polo from the 19th to the 20th century, exploring representations of the merchant’s figure and his adventure in contemporary art.

To ensure an engaging experience for all, guided tours and a fun Activity Book are available for younger visitors, filled with anecdotes, games, clues, and stories related to Marco Polo’s journey in the lands of the Great Khan and the work “Il Milione.” Additionally, there are organized activities for families, adults, teenagers, and schools.

Marco Polo exhibition at the Doge’s Palace: the mayor’s words

mostra marco polo palazzo ducale venezia

‘A major aspect will be a significant exhibition at the Doge’s Palace in Venice, scheduled to run from April until September 2024. The exhibition will include a wide range of objects already present in our museums. In parallel, we intend to develop links with Ca’ Foscari University, which offers a course in Oriental languages, including Chinese. This will allow us to further explore connections with Japan, even though Marco Polo never set foot there, but talked about it anyway.”

“In addition, we are considering holding conferences with the US in order to better understand China’s position in global geopolitics. This initiative will allow for debates and dialogues in Venice as a place of strategic discussion. Our intention is to form a committee open to various stakeholders, young people and interested individuals, to promote initiatives aimed at exploring the remarkable contribution of this iconic figure in Venetian history, who built a crucial bridge to the East. This represents an opportunity to initiate reflection and discussion on issues of current and future relevance.”

Educational activities on the occasion of the exhibition

In collaboration with MUVE Education, a series of engaging educational activities have been designed, suitable for all ages and different audiences.

For schools of all levels, MUVE Education offers interactive workshops that transport students on an adventurous journey through ancient prints, tapestries, textiles and paintings on display in the exhibition. One engaging activity is the “Catai Treasure Hunt,” where young explorers can discover hidden stories and fascinating symbologies, and then test their creativity by decorating a Chinese fan.

For families, a unique experience awaits young and old alike. Guided tours offer an opportunity to explore the exhibition with a fun activity book inspired by the adventures of Marco Polo, as told by Geronimo Stilton. In addition, workshops such as “Decorate Your Catai Fan” promise moments of creativity and fun for the whole family.

But the activities do not stop there. For adults, guided itineraries offer an in-depth look at various aspects of the exhibition, from Marco Polo’s life to the cartography of the lands visited, with opportunities to explore the collections on display and loans from museums around the world.

Who was Marco Polo

marco polo

Marco Polo was not only the Venetian traveler of the Middle Ages who discovered China via the Silk Road; he was the first to narrate the magic of the Orient, mixing reality and fantasy in his travel account known as ‘The Million’.

The life of Marco Polo, the Venetian navigator, began in Venice in 1254, within a family of merchants. His father, Niccolò, was involved in a trading firm that, together with his brothers, imported goods from the Orient.

The firm had bases in Constantinople and on the Black Sea, where the Polo brothers spent much of their time while their families resided in Venice.

Marco Polo, at the age of seventeen, began accompanying his father on his commercial travels to China, but showed a strong determination to follow a life entirely dedicated to exploration.

A Venetian in China, a Chinese in Venice: having arrived in Beijing in May 1275, Marco Polo stayed at the court of Qubilay until 1292, carrying out diplomatic tasks on behalf of the khan and having the opportunity to travel across the entire empire.

Returning to Venice in 1295, he took part in an armed clash against the Genoese, which landed him in prison.

During his imprisonment, he dictated a memoir to his cellmate, Rustichello, written in French, the literary language of the time.

This book became known as ‘The Travels of Marco Polo and was a significant contribution in spreading the myth of the Orient full of wonders and treasures.

The Polos who discovered the Orient began their journey in 1261, when contacts between Italian merchants and the Golden Horde were multiplying. They set out with the intention of trading with the Mongols in the Ukraine, but joined caravans bound for the East.

They were the first Europeans to stay in China, received by Qubilay, the Great Khan of the Mongols and emperor of China, grandson of Genghis Khan.

Their return to Europe initiated direct relations between Europe and China, both religiously and commercially.

In 1312, Pope Gregory X appointed a bishop of Peking, Giovanni da Montecorvino, demonstrating the importance of the first connections.

The Polos undertook a second journey to China in 1271, also bringing with them the young Marco, son of Niccolò.

Marco Polo’s journey to China along the Silk Road took them along an uncertain but sure route, travelling along roads already travelled by local merchants.

Their route took them through several cities and regions, including Caesarea of Cappadocia, Baghdad and many others, until they reached China and the court of the Great Khan.

“The Travels of Marco Polo” is the only source that provides details of this long journey, but it is also an account that mixes reality and fantasy.

The book does not abound in dates or personal reflections, but focuses on the description of countries, people, and their riches.

Marco Polo’s fame lies in his long stay in the East, which contributed to a greater mutual understanding between Asia and Europe.

However, it is important to note that, in the Middle Ages, it was not only the Polos who undertook such experiences, but their testimony remains an important trace of the journeys to the East of that period.

Marco Polo exhibition at the Doge’s Palace Venice: FAQ

When does the Marco Polo exhibition at the Doge’s Palace take place?

The exhibition will begin on April 6 and end on September 29, 2024.

How much does the entrance ticket for the Marco Polo exhibition at the Doge’s Palace cost?

Until April 5, 2024, the price of admission is 8€. From April 6 onward, the price is 2€ (to be purchased together with the San Marco ticket or Museum Pass).

Does the Marco Polo exhibition ticket guarantee access to the Doge’s Palace?

No, if you wish to visit the Doge’s Palace as well, you are required to purchase a Museum Pass or Palace entrance ticket (available here).

Is it possible to visit just the exhibition (without buying a ticket to the Ducal Palace)?

Of course. It is possible to purchase the ticket for the Marco Polo exhibition only, without necessarily having to purchase the ticket for the Doge’s Palace.

What are the opening times of the Marco Polo exhibition at the Doge’s Palace?

Daily (Monday through Sunday), 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

palazzo ducale venezia spiegato ai bambini

Doge’s Palace Venice skip-the-line ticket: quick access

Buy online. Choose your preferred time. Visit Venice’s Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs, prisons and more.

You can cancel for free up to the day before your visit.

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