The Correr Museum takes its name from Teodoro Correr (1750-1830), a nobleman from an ancient Venetian family, attentive and passionate collector. Upon his death in 1830, he donated his art collection to the city, together with the Palazzo a San Zan Degolà in which it was kept and additional resources intended to preserve and increase the collection that takes its name from him and which constitutes the founding nucleus. of the patrimony of the Civic Museums of Venice. In the testamentary document it is expressly indicated how and how much the house should be open to the public and to scholars, how many people should guarantee its functioning with their work and with what resources. These precise provisions underline how the donor had in mind not only a place of culture in which scholars could educate themselves, but a real museum intended as a place of conservation, exhibition, collection and use of objects of various kinds. The collection, however, had not been formed following organic criteria; exposed to the public since 1836, only with the third of its directors, Vincenzo Lazari, is it organized according to a museographic logic. Lazari divides the materials, catalogs them, takes care of the introduction of new donations, carries out purchases, solicits restorations and structures the museum on the one hand as a study cabinet, on the other with an exhibition itinerary of notable things, choosing - these are his words - "How much better there was in every single collection". Unfortunately, Lazari is also responsible for the destruction of documents and objects in his opinion not suited to the protection of the donor's image, but it is thanks to his work that, in the second half of the century, the city guides place the museum among the destinations of obligation of educated visitors and scholars.
The subsequent continuous increase of the patrimony for new bequests, donations, acquisitions, marks the singular history of the Civic Museums of Venice, destined to be divided over time into a series of detached sections characterized in a different and specific way, to form the current vast system museum of the city. Enriched with new donations, including the Molin, Zoppetti collections (with the remarkable Canova materials), Tironi (paintings, majolica, glass, bronzes), Cicogna, Sagredo and others, the collection was already moved from Palazzo Correr in 1887 and placed in the near Fondaco dei Turchi, with new acquisitions (including, in 1895, the substantial heritage of memories of Francesco Morosini) and a new exhibition. In the meantime, the Municipality of Venice started the municipal collection of modern art in 1897, in conjunction with the second edition of the Biennale and in 1902 it designated Ca 'Pesaro as its headquarters, a prestigious Baroque palace recently donated to the city by the Duchess Felicita Bevilacqua La Masa. Here, therefore, the paintings of the second half of the nineteenth century that Pompeo Molmenti will leave to the city in 1927 will also find space. In 1922 the Correr Museum was transferred again, this time to its final location, the Napoleonic Wing of Piazza San Marco and part of the Procuratie Nuove. Molmenti, then Undersecretary of Fine Arts, fought to make this arrangement possible. At the same time as the Fondaco dei Turchi there is the Natural History Museum. In 1923 the Glass Museum was also acquired, based in Murano in Palazzo Giustiniani: the various collections of glass converged here in 1932. Meanwhile, in 1923, an agreement with the State entrusted the management of the Doge's Palace to the Municipality of Venice.
The donation to the city of Ca 'Centanni, the birthplace of Carlo Goldoni, dates back to 1931, while in 1932 the Municipality buys Ca' Rezzonico: it will be used as a museum of the Venetian eighteenth century and therefore they will find space here, based on a project by Giulio Lorenzetti and Nino Barbantini , in 1936, the eighteenth-century works of the Correr collection, as well as other acquisitions. In 1945 Alvise Nicolò Mocenigo gave the city his home in San Stae. The Carlo Goldoni House, enriched by funds from the Theater Studies Center, was set up and opened to the public in 1952, while, in 1956, Henriette Fortuny left Mariano's house-atelier and its collections to the Municipality. In 1975 the Mariano Fortuny Museum opened to the public and six years later, in Burano, the Lace Museum was born in the ancient school of Andriana Marcello. The Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo opened to the public in 1985 and here, in the annexed Study Center for the History of Textiles and Costume, the Correr textile collections converge, among other things. In the nineties, the civic museum system was completed by renewing and unifying the organizational structure of all the locations under a single direction.