Marco Polo – “Il Milione”

“… you have to know, it is the most beautiful palace that has ever existed. The roof is prestigious and the walls of the palace are entirely covered with gold and silver. They are also adorned with dragons, animals and birds, knights and idols. And even on the ceilings nothing can be seen but gold and silver. The palace is so vast, so rich and so beautiful that no man on earth could design anything to surpass it…”

About Us

On 11 June 2005, the first museum in Italy entirely dedicated Oriental Antiques opened just outside the city of Vicenza in Brendola.

It houses a unique and valuable collection of furniture, objects, and furnishings mainly from China and Tibet that form a cultural and philological portal to the last millennium of Oriental history, through more than 200 specimens of the magnificence, craft and art of the ancient Far East.

This collection of precious objects has transformed the rooms of Villa Orna, an 18th-century Venetian villa, into storehouses of millennial wisdom where finely decorated objects and furniture depict the extraordinary feats of nobles and rulers, and the humble daily life of distant civilizations.

Just as the astonishment felt by the traveller and merchant Marco Polo upon viewing the wonders of Cathay was beyond all belief, we are certain that the surprise first-time visitors experience upon entering the Obrietan Museum to witness the art, culture and spirituality will be no less incredulous.

History

The building complex was enlarged around the mid-19th century and became the residence of an important landholding family that owned all the farming land in the valley.

The house was requisitioned by the British Army during the First World War and used as a collection centre for foodstuffs to supply the troops on the front lines in the nearby Venetian Prealps. After the war the villa was donated to the Bishopric of Vicenza, which turned it into a convent, and was then later taken over by another wealthy family, who transformed it into a tobacco processing centre.

The complex was abandoned in the 1970s and then bought by the Obrietan family in 1987. Following a lengthy restoration, the villa became the residence of the family on 11 June 1988, and has been the site of the Thais antique gallery since 1996. The Obrietan Museum was inaugurated on 11 June 2005 for the 17th wedding anniversary of Gioacchino Obrietan and his wife, Elisabetta. The Museum was created in the building’s west wing, where the barn was once located.

Three buildings from the old complex still remain. The guest house and the old stables behind the main building have been completely restored and are used for restoration work and Gallery exhibitions. The building complex is surrounded by a garden that is home to statues of the Buddha and temple bells from China among its magnolias and ancient chestnut trees.




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VILLA ORNA

Brendola is an ancient town nestled among the beautiful hills seen by motorists driving along the A4 motorway from Verona to Vicenza. The small town is situated on the southern slope of a hill topped by the ruins of an ancient castle built around the year 1000 AD, and is one of the most picturesque spots in the exceptionally beautiful Veneto region.

The town also extends to the plain below, where vast tracts of farmland once yielded prosperity and wealth to the local inhabitants. At the centre of the plain that separates the town of Brendola from the hils of Vicenza lies Villa Orna, a rustic Venetian villa built in the late 18th century.

The architecture is typical of a manor house, with an impressive main building and two huge porticoes for the entry and exit of wagons, as well as an attic granary.

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THE THAIS GALLERY

The Obrietan museum, which occupies the western part of Villa Orna’s main building, is not the only attraction of to be found here. The rooms of the 18-century farm house are in fact home to one of the most important reference points for enthusiasts and collectors of oriental art in Italy: the Thais Gallery.

The Thais Gallery is the only company in Northern Italy that exhibits and sells antique Oriental furniture and art objects. Just as in the museum, the rooms of the gallery are dedicated to historical objects of venerable beauty, and the innovative ingenuity and workmanship of furniture, ceramics, sculptures and bells. The pieces are all antiques, and come mainly from China and Tibet. The pieces in the Thais Gallery are very similar to those found in the museum and are, in fact, the result of numerous research trips made by Gioacchino Obrietan, an Asian explorer and collector of Oriental objects with an unbridled passion for beauty and antiques, who travelled far and wide throughout the Far East for many years in search of the rarest and most valuable furniture and objects

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OTHER ACTIVITIES

Villa Orna has large rooms located next to those of the museum. The Obrietan Museum rents these rooms for conferences, courses and other cultural activities. The museum also has an audio-video room for viewing films.

The museum frequently organizes activities, such as temporary modern and contemporary art exhibitions, book presentations or releases, and cultural meetings. Villa Orna’s spacious exhibition halls can be furnished with Oriental furniture and objects from the Thais Gallery to set up conference rooms or buffets with tables and chairs, creating an exotic and spiritual atmosphere for meetings or special dinners.

For more information, please contact the manager by phone on: 0444/490413

VISITING THE MUSEUM

The Obrietan Museum exhibition area is located on the second floor of the western side of the main building. Visitors are welcomed at the entrance on the ground floor, and accompanied by staff up a picturesque flight of stairs lined with red walls. At the top of the stairs a quote from Marco Polo written in gold on an amaranth background that occupies the entire wall provides an introduction for the entrance into an enchanting and relaxing Oriental atmosphere. Immediately to the right, visitors enter a square room with a high, sloping ceiling that is dedicated to special temporary exhibitions. At the end of this room, on the left, an ancient Chinese door made of wood and wrought iron marks the entrance to the Obrietan Museum’s permanent exhibition.

ROUTE

The route inside the museum follows a rope-lined corridor. Guests are guided along the visit by a number of Plexiglas panels that contain information about the exhibits.

EXHIBITIONS

The Obrietan museum frequently hosts special temporary exhibitions, which are housed in a special room.

GUIDED TOURS

Guided tours of the museum and the gallery can be arranged by appointment for groups up to 30 people. A manager is always present during opening hours.

THE BOOKSHOP

Guests can purchase books and publications on Oriental history and art and souvenirs near the museum entrance.

CAR PARK

A large gravel car park is located at the rear of Villa Orna.
Coaches can make use of a large outdoor asphalt parking area.

HOURS AND PRICES

The Obrietan Museum is open from Monday to Saturday at the following times: Morning: 10:00 am – 12:30 pm; Afternoon: 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm Sunday, Monday and holidays visits by appointment only.