On May 20th, 2023, the 18th International Architecture Exhibition will begin: read all the information to visit the Venice Biennale 2023
With the press presentation, as usual in mid-February, La Biennale announced the structure and organization of the upcoming 18th International Architecture Exhibition. There are many new features and important elements to consider if you want to visit the Venice Biennale 2023.
When to visit the Venice Biennale 2023
The 18th International Architecture Exhibition will be open to the public from Saturday, May 20th to Sunday, November 26th, 2023. The exhibition spaces will be located at the Giardini, the Arsenale, and Forte Marghera in Mestre.
The pre-opening, reserved for the press and industry professionals, will take place on May 18th and 19th, and the award ceremony and inauguration will be held on Saturday, May 20th, 2023.
What are the best times to visit? I would exclude weekends (note that on Mondays, both locations are closed except for some extraordinary openings) and take advantage of May and June or October if you’re not curious enough to want to attend the opening. At the end of the post, you will find some useful tips for “surviving” the Biennale.
It is essential to book tickets in advance. You can discover the various options by reading this post.
The theme of the exhibition
The curator of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition is Lesley Lokko (Ghana/Scotland), an architect, architecture professor, and writer. A multifaceted profile that I was glad to find, and which brings to this Biennale a vision that is certainly new compared to the past.
The title, “The Laboratory of the Future,” refers not to achieved conquests but to an ongoing process. In the press conference and in the communications, Lesley Lokko frequently uses the term “agent of change,” questioning what the correct actions are to take in events like this.
I find that this sentence tells her thought well.
In architecture, in particular, the dominant voice has historically been a singular and exclusive voice, whose scope and power have ignored vast swathes of humanity – from a financial, creative, and conceptual point of view – as if listening and speaking in a single language. The “history” of architecture is therefore incomplete. Not wrong, but incomplete. That’s why exhibitions are important.
We are all curious to see the result of this questioning. For the first time, the spotlight is focused on Africa and its diaspora, on that fluid and intertwined culture of people of African origin that now embraces the world.
Particular effort is dedicated to experimenting with a pathway to achieve carbon neutrality. In 2022, in fact, La Biennale obtained the certification of carbon neutrality for all its events held during the year, thanks to careful data collection on the cause of CO2 emissions generated by the events themselves and the adoption of consequent measures. It seems to me an important step in an area heavily polluted like the Po Valley.
The venues of the Biennale and the Nationals participations
The exhibition venues will be as usual the Giardini and the Arsenale. There are 63 national participations: 27 at the Giardini, 22 at the Arsenale, and 14 in the historic center of Venice. Niger participates for the first time in the Architecture Biennale; Panama presents itself for the first time alone. The Pavilion of the Holy See also returns to the Island of San Giorgio.
The part directly curated by Lesley Lokko, “The Laboratory of the Future,” is divided into six containers. It includes 89 participants, of whom over half come from Africa or the African diaspora. The gender balance is equal, and the average age of the participants is 43 years, while it drops to 37 in the Curator’s Special Projects section, where the youngest is 24.
Rolex, the main sponsor of the exhibition, will have its pavilion and will curate a Carnival program, a series of meetings, conferences, round tables, films, and performances during the six months of the exhibition, aimed at exploring the themes of the Architecture Biennale 2023.
Entrance tickets for Venice Biennale 2023
The ticket options offered are many and they all need to be purchased through the Biennale website, along with guided tours. The Biennale strongly recommends not to print the tickets but to save them on one’s phone.
Tickets start at €25 for a single entry (one entry for each venue) and there are reductions to €20 for seniors over 65, residents of the Municipality of Venice, and other discounts for students.
Please note that until March 30th, tickets are on sale at a discounted price. For example, a single entry ticket (which normally costs €25) is on sale for €20.50. Pass is also particularly interesting, which is €70 until March 30th (instead of €75), and the 3-day full ticket is €30* instead of €35.
Of course, there are also dedicated rates for groups.
Some additional information on passes and 3-day tickets. With the pass, you can enter both venues as many times as you want. While the 3-day ticket allows multiple entries to the venues for 3 consecutive days (note that Monday is closed).
Attention: The pass for residents of the Municipality of Venice will be available at the info points of the Exhibition from May 20.
Fixed departure guided tours are recommended (reservation required) at a cost of €8.00 per person per venue.
How much time is needed to visit the Biennale?
The answer to this question is impossible to give: it depends on the level of interest, the style of the visit, whether you are alone or in company.
What I do NOT recommend is visiting both venues in the same day: you will come out tired and exhausted and probably won’t remember anything.
The best choice would be to arrive at 10, at opening time, take the guided tour, have lunch and then maybe visit what was not included in the tour or go back to see something you particularly liked, take some photos, etc.
The spaces, both at the Giardini and the Arsenale, are beautiful even without the exhibition: take the time to see them well. In the year of Covid, the Biennale didn’t take place, but I opened the spaces for visits, and they were very interesting. I hope that these visits will be repeated this year.
So, if you want to visit the Biennale, I recommend at least a long weekend, and if you can stay longer, even better.
Essential practical information for visiting La Biennale di Venezia 2023.
Visiting the 2023 Biennale is not an activity to approach unprepared. Let’s be clear, it’s not a job, but it still requires good planning. Here are the things that I consider important to take into consideration:
- Book your entry: avoid wasting time and energy by standing in line.
- Arrive at opening time or shortly after: you’ll have more time to visit and take breaks when you’ve run out of energy.
- Be prepared to walk and stand: wear comfortable and cushioned sneakers or super comfortable sandals. No one will judge your clothing, so don’t worry about wearing the most comfortable shoes you own.
- It’s better to bring a water bottle, especially since the Biennale insists so much on reducing carbon emissions.
- Bring a snack, a granola bar, or some dried fruit: refreshment areas are available, but there could be lines.
- Refreshment areas are a great solution for lunch: usually, prices are not even excessive. Consider the times, however, because at 1 pm, there’s usually a lot of people. Better before or after.
- Bring a power bank since you’ll use your cell phone a lot for taking photos and videos. There are usually charging areas where you can take a break.
- Bring a very lightweight bag or backpack, and don’t fill it up, or your shoulders will suffer.
- I recommend booking a hotel in Venice or Lido, not in Mestre. Traveling long distances could add extra fatigue.
Everything outside of the Biennale spaces
Whether you are a resident of Venice (or Veneto) or a temporary visitor, visiting Venice during the Biennale period also means having many other opportunities. Indeed, many country or cultural institutions organize many events within the city. Most of the time, admission to these exhibitions is free and allows you to visit spaces that are normally closed to the public.
Therefore, I recommend taking the time to visit some of these exhibitions as well. Last year, I counted more than 300 exhibitions in Venice during the Biennale period. I expect similar numbers this year as well. Of course, there is no obligation to visit them all, and there won’t be a prize at the end. But if you’re interested, try to take the right amount of time to stay in the city.
Where can you find information on these exhibitions? In the first few days of the show, there are several magazines that list the exhibitions, and you can also find them at many hotels. Follow me on Instagram, and I will give you directions on where to find them.
Are you ready? Let’s go!