Venice is the only major Italian city without an ancient past, yet it hosts a collection of ancient art second in Italy only to those in Rome and Naples. This museum housing this collection was first established in 1596, when the heirs of Cardinal Domenico Grimani, a noted humanist, who had left his collection of original Greek (5th–1st centuries BC) and Roman marbles to the Republic, inaugurated the Public Statuary in Sansovino's then recently completed library in Piazza San Marco. You can see part of the collection, displayed just as Grimani, or at least his immediate heirs, had conceived it, in the vestibule of the Libreria Sansoviniana, which the museum shares with the Biblioteca Marciana. Highlights in the rest of the museum include the statue of Kore (420 BC), an Attic original known as Abbondanza Grimani; the 1st-century BC Ara Grimani, an elaborate Hellenistic altar stone with a bacchanalian scene; and a tiny but refined 1st-century BC crystal woman's head, which some
say depicts Cleopatra. The very beautiful original venue of the collection, the family palazzo built and designed by Domenico Grimani's nephew, Giovanni, near Campo Santa Maria Formosa, is open to the public (call 0415200345). Even though it no longer contains the collection, it is still well worth a visit.