Rashomon effect at the Venice Oriental Art Museum


Last Updated on November 22, 2023 by Laura Teso

On the third floor of the Ca’ Pesaro Palace you can visit, included in the Ca’ Pesaro ticket, the Venice Oriental Art Museum.

The works collected are mainly Chinese and Japanese, with some works from Siam, Java and Cambodia. The Japanese collection is among the most important European collections of the Edo period, which runs from 1600 to 1868.

It consist of more than 30.000 pieces, such as:

  • Weapons
  • Armours
  • Dolls
  • Kimonos
  • Musical instruments
  • Vases
  • Lacquer objects
  • Votive statuettes
  • Porcelain items
  • Drawings

The objects once belonged to Prince Henry of Bourbon who collected them during his travels in the Far East. Initially the collection was in another Venetian building, Palazzo Vendramin Calergi, where Prince Henry of Bourbon resided. After his death, the collection was bought by a Viennese antiquarian. At the end of the First World War the Austrian Government decided to return the collection to Italy as a compensation for war damages.

Venice Oriental Art Museum

The pieces in my opinion are considerable. Some of the armours are really wonderful and peculiar because they are completely (of course) different from the European ones. Even the weapons, spears or halberds for example, are very special and presented a refined décor. I was impressed by the large ornate sedan chair, by the huge black and gold folding screen and also by the the amazing red and white chessboard.

As for the post title, Rashomon is a movie by director Akira Kurosawa. In the movie four crime witnesses tell their own different version of the facts. The Rashomon effect refers therefore to the contradictory testimonies given by different people regarding the same event. I’m saying this because, while I haven’t been won over by the collection, my nephew basically hated it.

In conclusion

In my opinion it was interesting, yes, but I don’t particularly like vases, porcelain items, etc. The weapons were cool though. Moreover the exhibition had some flaws: The display as it is seems a bit confusing, like a jumble of objects, many of them not properly lit. It caused both to me and to my nephew a claustrophobic sensation. Obviously, if you come to visit the Modern Art Gallery you have to climb the stairs to see this too. Some of the works are really unique and interesting. But if you are in Venice for a short period and you’re not particularly interested neither in Modern nor in Oriental Art, then I wouldn’t suggest the detour.

Ca Pesaro Oriental Art Museum
http://capesaro.visitmuve.it/en http://www.arteorientale.org
Santa Croce 2076,  30135 Venezia

Opening hours
From April 1st to October 31st 10 am – 6 pm (ticket office 10 am – 5 pm)
From November 1st to March 31st 10 am – 5 pm (ticket office 10 am – 4 pm)
Closed on Mondays, December 25th, January 1st and May 1st

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