Accademia: repair & flood prevention work to the floors of Palladio's Tablino and spiral staircase

About the project

Among the many buildings that were flooded in the weeks of extreme Acque Alte in November and December 2019 was Palladio’s Roman-inspired Tablino in the Accademia Galleries – built as part of the convent of the Lateran Canons in 1562.

Here the casts of some of Canova’s most famous works are displayed, together with the remarkable Venetian ‘Empire’ furniture conserved by Venice in Peril in 2015.

Floodwater reached almost to the top of the platform bases of the casts and furniture but did not touch the objects themselves. The Accademia’s underground tanks or vasche that capture floodwater were installed in 1984 and are designed to stop water coming up through the floor, but in November the water found its way in.

Diagnosing the points of entry of the water was very challenging and shows how complex both the problems and solutions are. The marmorino (traditional Venetian stucco) walls of the Tablino were damaged as was the patterned terracotta floor, by the salty water. This has caused the break up of surfaces and left extensive staining.

With the MOSE barriers now in operation flooding should not reoccur, but as there is still a risk, a pump is being installed. To accommodate the pump and allow water to drain away from the Tablino, a blocked door on the north wall (seen on the left of main pic) is being opened up. Behind it is Palladio’s spectacular oval spiral staircase which visitors will now be able to see and the project will include repair of the terracotta floor here as well.  

Project location

In brief

  • Palladio’s Tablino in the Accademia Gallery was badly affected by flooding in late 2019.
  • With funds raised by Venice in Peril’s Acqua Alta 2019 Appeal a project to repair the terracotta floor and marmorino wall surfaces was prepared.
  • It was also decided to open up the blocked door in the north wall which leads to Palladio’s spiral staircase, to repair the terracotta floor here and install a pump in case the Tablino should get flooded again.
  • This means that as well as safeguarding the Tablino the project will extend access, allowing visitors to enjoy views of Palladio’s spectacular oval staircase.
  • The work is being undertaken by Venetian conservation firm Uni.SVe. headed by architect Guido Jaccarino and should be completed by May 2021.
  • Picture credits: main right Uni.SVe/©G.A.VE; small top left/bottom right,  ©G.A.VE Archivio Fotografico/A.Chemollo

More images