The architectural complex that today houses the Great Galleries of the Academy is made up of several historic buildings: the church of Santa Maria della Carità, its monastery and the spaces of the Scuola Grande of the same name.
Its foundation in the early decades of the twelfth century where, until the early nineteenth century, the canons of Santa Maria in Porto outside Ravenna, first, and the observant Augustinians of Frigionaia then, traced the name and the use of spaces with the older than the Venetian lay brotherhoods of the battuti.
With the settling of the Augustinians, during the fifteenth century, several reconstruction campaigns were undertaken in the church and in the monastery, the latter modified in the eastern wing by Andrea Palladio in the sixties of the sixteenth century.
The buildings of the School were renovated in the second half of the eighteenth century, based on designs by Giorgio Massari and the pupil Bernardino Macaruzzi.
Only in 1807 the buildings of the Santa Maria della Carità complex, which became state property by Napoleonic edict, were assigned to the headquarters of the Academy of Fine Arts with adjoining Galleries.
THE ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS OF VENICE (1750 - 2010)
On 24 September 1750, the Venetian Senate sanctioned the birth of the Venetian Academy which adopted a statute in 1756. The Academic College was made up of thirty-six professors among whom, from year to year, the four masters for teaching were chosen: Figure, Portrait, Landscape, Sculpture. Gianbattista Piazzetta was the first president while Gianbattista Pittoni and Gianmaria Morlaiter were the first councilors; and these had the task of electing the academics among whom the teachers were indicated: Gasparo Diziani, Francesco Zanchi, Francesco Fontebasso and Bortolomeo Nazzari. The teaching of perspective and architecture was established in 1768 with a course, held and subsequently renewed annually, by Francesco Costa. Since its establishment the Venetian Academy has been involved in the conservation and restoration of public paintings and even in 1777 the academician Pietro Edwards was the architect of a unique technical and critical elaboration in the field of restoration, such as to be considered a authentic Carta del Restauro ante litteram, contributing later, in 1819, to the "Institution of a Formal Public School for the Restoration of Damaged Paintings". In 1807 the "Venetian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture" was reformed into the "Royal Academy of Fine Arts" and moved to the premises, no longer used for worship, of the convent, church and school of Santa Maria della Carità. The architecture professor Giannantonio Selva, a well-known representative of classicism, adapted the complex of buildings to the new functions with an unprecedented and unscrupulous fusion of Gothic, Palladian and neoclassical structures which, however, already coexisted in the previous projects of the annexed factories.
The president of the Academy became a director, being able to hold the position for life as well as the masters. In the meantime, from 1798 many masterpieces from the convents and churches of the Veneto flowed into the Academy headquarters and with the return of the Austrians many works were returned by the French; then on 10 August 1817 the Galleries were opened to the public of visitors, continuing however to enrich themselves thanks to the donations of the same masters and the various rich private collections. Only in 1879 the Gallerie dell'Accademia were spun off from the direct control and protection of the same teachers of the Academy of Fine Arts who previously held, among other things, this role of conservation.
The Academy can therefore well be represented by those artists who with their contribution have favored the growth of the new generations including Piazzetta, Tiepolo, Zanchi, Diziani, Morlaiter, Selva, Canova, Hayez, Lipparini, Matteini, Grigoletti, Politi, Molmenti, Favretto, Nono, Ciardi, Milesi, Tito, Cadorin, Cesetti, Saetti, Giuliani, Arturo Martini, Alberto Viani, Mario de Luigi, Carlo Scarpa, Afro, Santomaso, Emilio Vedova. These names are only part of what the Academy of Venice has always been able to express, becoming in fact one of the most prestigious artistic institutes in the international field.
A little more than two hundred and fifty years after its foundation, the Academy of Fine Arts of Venice left the historic headquarters of the Charity, destined to house the heritage of the Accademia galleries in its entirety, and moved to the restored complex of the former Hospital of the Incurables. Today the Academy has the task of education and training at the highest level in the field of culture and art production. With the aim of achieving these objectives in the best possible way, the courses have been renewed in a more functional way and new ones have been activated, of an experimental nature, with the aim of providing, in relation to the interests, vocations and personal motivations of the students, cognitive tools and operational ones more appropriate for defining further professional profiles and possible employment opportunities. Since 2008, the still partly experimental teaching dedicated to "new media" and technological image processing (design, special graphic techniques, photography, mass media ...) due to the lack of space in the headquarters has been creating a pole homogeneous on the island of San Servolo.
The Academy of Fine Arts of Venice is an institution of High Culture in the arts sector, located in the segment of training at the university level.