The first gathering of the unit in Venice took place at Fontego dei Turchi, the natural history museum of Venice. Former palazzo to the Persaro Family, the building was built in XIII century and had to go through several restoration works to accommodate the museum. Upon entering the impressive courtyard, one can witness a cetaceans hung from the ceiling by the entrance, providing a glimpse into what is to come. As we met up with a curator, detail accounts of the museum unravelled.
The museum, as an institution, is not only concerned with the exhibition of objects. Through collaboration with universities and communities, the museum also acts as an extensive research/educational institution that tackles different issues at hand. The museum also conducts studies on various fields such as archaeozoology
entomology, marine biology, ornitology and paleontology.
In its exhibit, the museum has a number of different galleries which are connected to one another, back-to-back. The arrangement of galleries is more or less based on a lineal experience that starts with palaeontology and moves through the evolution of collecting, strategies of life and aquarium. However, the museum is very distinctive in the way it engages with the visitors. From the palaeontology section to aquarium, the environment caters for curiosity. The exhibited objects do not usually have labels or little tags that explain. This experience is particularly strong in palaeontology gallery where lighting and sound effect work together with the exhibit without much text.In this way, Fontego dei Turchi sets an example or how a modern museum can serve as a true cabinet of curiosity rather than a textbook for the audience of all age.