Murano is one of the main islands in the Venetian lagoon and it is famous for the tradition of glassmaking. The life of this little island for centuries has been based only on glassmaking. Murano looks like a little Venice: it’s a cluster of 9 islands linked together by bridges with a Grand Canal that runs through. You can visit Murano on foot, walking among colorful houses, little bridges, and blown glass shops. On Murano, it is worth visiting the Glass Museum (Museo del Vetro), the church of San Donato and one of the furnaces, so you can discover how blown glass is made. From Venice, you can reach this island in 40 minutes by waterbus (vaporetto).
How did glassmakers arrive to Murano?
Making glass, especially blown glass, is an exceedingly difficult and hazardous job. At the time, glass factories were made of wood, significantly increasing the risk of fires, so in 1295 The Most Serene Republic of Venice ordered to move the entire glassmaking industry to Murano island. This choice was made to protect the city from great damages, but also it was an attempt to control the industry and avoid the spread of the Venetian glassmaking expertise. The glassmakers had to live on this island, and they could leave Venice only with a special permission from the government. Despite the strict control exercised by the Republic, many glassmakers managed to escape Venice and took their art all over the world.
The Glass Museum
The Glass Museum, housed in the ancient residence of Torcello’s bishops, was founded after Venice recovered from a severe crisis in the glass industry. The manufacture of Swarovski crystals, the fall of the Republic, and years under foreign rule held back the glass industry and the art of glassmaking. After overcoming the crisis, Murano’s mayor Antonio Colleoni and abbot Zanetti, a glassmaking expert, managed to obtain the approval to build up an archive, collecting all the historical documents available on the island. In a noticeably short time, the archive became a museum thanks to the huge amount of donations from the owner of furnaces, which from the second half of 19th century went back to working at full capacity. After Murano was annexed by Venice in 1923, the Glass Museum became one of the Venice Civic Museums (Musei Civici Veneziani). While visiting the museum, you will see uncommon glass masterpieces from the 14th to the 20th century and learn more about how glass is made.