This museum dedicated to ships and shipbuilding continues an old tradition: under the Republic, the models created for shipbuilders in the final design stages were kept in the Arsenale. Some of the models on display are from that collection.
The ground floor has warships, cannons, explosive speedboats and dodgy-looking manned torpedoes, plus a display of ships through the ages. On the walls are relief models in wood and papier mâché, dating from the 16th to the 18th century, of Venetian fortresses and possessions.
On the first floor are ornamental trimmings and naval instruments, plus a series of impressive models of Venetian ships. Here, too, is a richly gilded model of the Bucintoro, the doges' state barge. The second floor has uniforms, more up-to-date sextants and astrolabes, and models of modern Italian navy vessels. On the third floor there are models of Chinese, Japanese and Korean junks, cruise ships and liners, and a series of fascinating naïve votive paintings, giving thanks for shipwrecks averted or survived.
A room at the back has a display of gondolas, including a 19th-century example with a cabin, and the last privately owned covered gondola in Venice, which belonged to the larger-than-life art collector and bon vivant Peggy Guggenheim (see Peggy Guggenheim Collection).