Given the short amount of time most visitors spend in Venice, combined with the bewildering array of things to see, I am at a loss to understand why so many of them make a beeline for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection of Modern Art.
The gallery is excellent, but there are excellent galleries of modern art all over the world. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection actually attracts more visitors each year than the nearby Galleria dell' Accademia, which houses an unrivalled collection of Venetian Art.
Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979) was the flamboyant daughter of Benjamin Guggenheim, one of the seven Guggenheim brothers, who became fabulously rich towards the end of the 19th century. Though born in New York, Peggy spent most of her life in Europe. In 1947 she bought the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, where she lived for the rest of her life.
In 1951 Peggy turned part of her palazzo into a museum of modern art and one of its most notorious works of art, Marino Marini's bronze sculpture, L'angelo della città (The Angel of the City, 1948/50), stands provocatively on a terrace overlooking the Grand Canal.
The statue was originally cast with a removable penis so that the erect member could be detached, if it were deemed likely to offend the delicate sensibilities of certain passers-by. Unfortunately, the penis disappeared on the occasion of one of Peggy's numerous parties and has since been replaced with one that is fixed.