The complex of Ospedaletto (“small hospital”) was founded in February 1528, as an initiative launched by private residents of Venice. Its construction was a response to the substantial number of poverty-stricken arrivals migrating into the city, who relocated due to the mainland famine that subsequently came about after the War of the League of Cambrai (1508-1516). Initially, the complex consisted of a series of simple wooden sheds, as shelter for those in need; yet very soon the structure started to gain a well-established profile as a result of its organisational and architectural features. The Church of Santa Maria dei Derelitti is associated to the first historical phase, executed by Andrea Palladio in 1575.
The seventeenth Century was a pivotal century for the Ospedaletto, considering the renovations that took place. Thanks to the work by architects Antonio and Giuseppe Sardi between 1664 to 1666 (who constructed the elliptical staircase and intended to link the floors of the new section), which was subsequently taken over by Baldassare Longhena. As a result of the latter, particularly, the Courtyard of Four Seasons (il Cortile delle Quattro Stagioni) was designed to create a respite for guests in the female quarters, as well as the Church’s imposing baroque façade.
In 1777 the Hall of Music was completed and intended for listening to chamber concerts- given that, back in the late fifteenth century, there was a music school within the Ospedaletto, specifically intended for young orphans. The spaces designed by Francesco Patron, were frescoed by Jacopo Guarana and Agostino mengozzi Colonna.
To mark the 58th International Art Exhibition, the structure will host a project titled Ospedaletto Con/temporaneo – which arose from a desire to re-engage these spaces and integrate them into the exhibition network and cultural fabric of the city.
Thus, the complex will support the presentation of exhibitions and art-events promoted by a selection of the most intriguing members of the contemporary scene, such as OGR Officine Grandi Riparazioni of Turin and Fabrica.
The church will additionally be hosting the Republic of San Marino Pavilion.