During my visit to Burano I decided to dedicate some time to the Burano Lace Museum. Lace is the best known Burano product, one of the most renowned in the world, so it seemed mandatory to visit it. Plus I had the Museum Pass (which costs 24€ and includes many Venice museums, see at the end of the post all the info).
I have to admit that I’m not a lace enthusiast. I like it, but I don’t know anything about it, I couldn’t tell the difference between a rare and exquisite lace and a less precious one, I don’t have any laces at home, I never bought one and I don’t know if one would suit with the décor of my apartment.
Burano Lace Museum
The Burano Lace Museum is hosted in the former Lace School, a nice bricks house in the main square, piazza Galuppi. The first impression was super because, though small, the hall was well maintained, clean, with decors referring to lace (for example the lockers, you’ll see them in the photo), the toilets were clean and new. It is accessible for disabled people. I saw the elevator leading upstairs and a proper bathroom. You can watch a nice video presenting the museum at www.youtube.com/LaceMuseum.
The first disappointment was the video in the first room – not functioning. That supposed to introduce us to the lace world, explaining something more than the poor explanatory sheets. Never mind. You can still see the images of the different points used in the embroidering art.
Upstairs you can admire (in 4 rooms) many refined lace pieces along with some furniture and paintings. Some of the laces are really nice, for example the christening dress (very baby Charlotte Elizabeth Diana style – how cute she is btw) or the bridal veil. I also liked the lace-makers workstations (no, no ladies, just empty seats) and some of the works participating to the 2015 lace contest. But the museum is, I have to say it, quite bare. Without the Museum Pass I think it would have been very disgruntled. Maybe for a lace lover it is paradise but for me it wasn’t that interesting. The explanatory sheets are too generic, intricate and boring. They don’t give info about the things displayed in each room. They don’t provide you with engaging fun facts, origins of the lace or something about the life condition of the lacemarkers.
In conclusion, I would recommend the visit only to people really interested in the matter and probably it would be better to ask for a guided tour to receive the lacking data.
I read the story of Burano lace in my guidebook. So I’ll report it to you. There are two different versions, as always in these cases.
- Someone says that the development of embroidering was simply due to an evolution of fishing nets manufacturing.
- But there’s naturally also the romantic version, a legend. A fisherman about to get married was sailing at see with his crew. They were tempted by beautiful mermaids along the way but he could resist them. So the Siren Queen, moved by his devotion to his fiancé, gave him a precious gift, created with sea foam: the most beautiful bridal veil ever seen. On the wedding day, all the young girls in Burano were jealous of that marvel. So they tried to imitate the veil weft, hoping to create a beautiful embroidery for their wedding dress.
The story of the Burano Lace
The Burano lace was always considered a luxury ware and all the noble families in Europe wanted it for their trousseau or dresses. For example, at the coronation of Richard III of England, Queen Anne wore a cape decorated with Burano lace. Catherine de’ Medici asked some Burano lace-makers to go in France to teach their art and preparing a lace collar. Louis XIV wore a Burano lace collar (costed 2 years of work) at his coronation.
At the beginning of 1900 every girl learned to sew from her mother since an early age. At age 12 the girls entered the Lace School, run by nuns. The work was very hard, lasting 6 hours in winter and 7 in summer. At 18 girls became skilled workers. The lace makers were divided for operations, each of them specializing in a single stage of the work (7 stages at least). So many girls worked for the creation of a single piece. After the wedding they continued working at home.
In Burano you will find all kinds of lace, including the non-original one. You have to be careful. But be aware that the original lace is super expensive, a real luxury product. You can figure out why, if you consider that making a tablecloth takes 3 years of work by 7 different lace-makers at least; plus it’s hard work and young girls are not eager to do it any more. So the lace-makers are increasingly rare. At www.isoladiburano.it/en you can find the address of shops in which you can buy original lace and other info about Burano.
Piazza Galuppi 187, 30142 Burano
From April 1st to October 31st 10 am – 6 pm (ticket office 10 am – 5.30 pm)
From November 1st to March 31st 10 am – 5 pm (ticket office 10 am – 4.30 pm)
Closed on Mondays, December 25th, January 1st and May 1st
Full price 5€
Museum Pass: 24€ full, 18€ reduced for: Doge’s Palace, Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Ca’ Rezzonico, Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo, Carlo Goldoni’s House, Ca’ Pesaro, Glass Museum – Murano, Lace Museum – Burano, Natural History Museum