What to See at the Venice Biennale 2017


Venice Biennale is one of the world’s most important arts organisations. It’s best known for annual exhibitions on contemporary art, dance, film and more, including the famous Venice International Film Festival. 2017 will see La Biennale di Venezia host the 57th International Art Exhibition, first founded in 1895. Here’s what art lovers can expect to find…

The 57th International Art Exhibition

The art exhibition takes place every two years in the city of Venice, showcasing artists from all over the world in historic venues across the city. Each event features a variety of educational events, workshops and tours tied together under an overall theme, as well as a special programme of activities for kids.

In 2017, the theme of the Venice Biennale exhibition is Viva Arte Viva. Curated by French curator Christine Macel, the theme celebrates passion for art and unity in a time of uncertainty, and the exhibition will be designed in collaboration with the artists.

carlo-scarpa-giardini Venice Biennale

Every day before the exhibition opens, the Biennale official website will post a video to introduce each artist. Throughout the six months of the exhibition, the featured artist will invite visitors to an Open Table (Tavola Aperta), to have lunch together and discuss the art in an informal setting.

Traditionally, the art exhibition includes works by participants from across the world. In 2017, Great Britain will be represented by artist Phyllida Barlow, famous for her colossal sculptural projects, while the participant for Wales will be Turner Prize-nominated James Richards.

The venues

The exhibition will move through a variety of rooms and pavilions, taking the spectator on a journey like chapters in a book.

The two main venues for the exhibition are the complex Arsenale exhibition area and the Giardini; gardens founded by Napoleon that have been the exhibition’s main venue since 1895. Green, leafy and filled with dozens of pavilions, the Giardini is the perfect place to stroll during a summer visit to the Biennale.


While you’re there

The exhibition venues are a little further out from the main tourist hub, so it’s the perfect opportunity to explore Venice off the beaten track. Wander north from the Giardini until you reach the canal and stop for lunch at Antica Osteria da Gino, a hidden gem serving wonderful authentic dishes.

Just over the canal is San Giuseppe di Castello, a beautiful little Renaissance church that’s one of the oldest in Venice, despite receiving relatively few visitors.


Venice Biennale: Need to know

Dates: 13 May to 26 November 2017
Opening hours: 10am – 6pm
Exhibition venues: Giardini and Arsenale, Venice
Tours: Guided tours are available in English, and can range from 1-2 hours. We recommend booking to avoid disappointment.

Find out more about our holidays to Venice here. For more on art in Italy, check out our guide to the art lover’s Italy.