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“Dutch Masters”
Review of Palazzo Fava

Palazzo Fava
Ranked #45 of 329 things to do in Bologna
Certificate of Excellence
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level 6 Contributor
160 reviews
47 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
“Dutch Masters”
Reviewed May 22, 2014

We visited Bologna specifically to see the Palazzo Fava exhibition. It was publicised as being primarily a Vermeer exhibition which it wasn't as it had only two Vermeers with all the rest of the exhibits being by other Dutch masters. There were a number of fine Rembrandt portraits and a Hals as well as landscapes, pictures with biblical themes and peasant lives by other artists. Of course, the highlight was to see the luminous "Girl with a Pearl Earring" in real life although it was a little disappointing that even though there are only 35 of his known works, there were so few Vermeers at what was advertised as being primarily a Vermeer exhibition.
To avoid long queues it is a good idea to pre-book.

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
2 Thank Anne W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Slovak first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Milan, Italy
Level 6 Contributor
102 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“The Girl with the Pearl Earring Exhibit a MUST!”
Reviewed May 22, 2014 via mobile

This was a highlight of my trip to Bologna. The staff were well trained in several languages and the paintings were spectacular!
It is up several uneven stairs, be careful!! It was beautifully done in 5 rooms. You will have to check everything ( no purses, cellphones, backpacks, cameras, any bags you have with you ) it is free, and the line moves fast with lots of people to help! Go soon, it ends on May 25-2014..

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
Thank Ella J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, TX
Level 6 Contributor
153 reviews
46 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“Disappointing”
Reviewed May 8, 2014

Since we made reservations, we did not have to wait in line, and it was exciting to see the "The Girl with a Pearl Earring" in person. But overall, the exhibit was a disappointment. My bad for not doing the research, but I was expecting more than two Vermeers. The works inspired by Vermeer were a waste of time. This exhibit did not justify a day trip from Florence.

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
Thank 2cool4theroom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bolzano, Italy
Level 5 Contributor
57 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Fascinating glimpse into 17th century Dutch masterpieces”
Reviewed May 2, 2014

There are a lot of negative reviews of this Vermeer and other Dutch masters' exhibition, many of which are totally unjustified. As there are still 3 weeks left of the exhibition, some tips and points:
Book in advance: many people are complaining about having to stand in an interminable queue to see this exhibition. Well, as The Girl with the Pearl Earring is the star attraction, in the top three of the most famous and recognisable artworks ever (after the Mona Lisa and The Scream), then it's hardly surprising most of northern Italy (and the rest of the world it seems) want to see it. The online booking system is easy, fast and saves you a long long wait. A no-brainer.
Book an audio-guide. It's true that the exhibition's lighting is at times dim, which makes it difficult to read the information panels (only in Italian), so book an audio-guide (in Italian or English) and let them guide you - very informative, very well done - the exhibition would have been a lot less stimulating without it.
The organisation was spot on - if you book, you have a 20-minute window to turn up, and the door people are very strict, which makes sense. Once you're in, you can be there all day if you want, so ignore all the other reviews that say you only have 20 minutes to see the exhibition.
Yes, the exhibition is small, and there are a lot of people and the groups are very annoying, especially if led by hysterical group leaders. But the groups move on very quickly, and suddenly you have the section (almost) to yourself. If you can manage to be patient, you can see all the paintings for as long as you like with little hassle.
Other points: a wonderful but small collection of paintings, from Vermeer (yes, only two paintings, but if there's The Girl with the Pearl Earring, what more could you want?) and Rembrandt to, I admit the star of the show, Fabritius's the Goldfinch, recently the protagonist of Donna Tartt's superlative novel. The exhibition is extremely well organised and works like clockwork - checking in our bags at the cloakroom was swift and efficient, getting the (prebooked) audioguides was a 20 second job, the little shop sold everything you could ever desire with the Girl with the Pearl Earring on - I mean, what's not to like?
I have only given 4 stars as I felt there were too many people, and I agree that perhaps the rooms were not organised very coherently, but the exhibition and Palazzo Fava are both very small, so the advantage is you can easily double back and go and revisit any paintings you may want to see again.
For anyone who can manage to get to Bologna before 25 May when the exhibition closes, you should take make the most of it and see this exhibition (but book online first!!) Oh, and all the hundreds and thousands and millions of reproductions of the Girl with the Pearl Earring don't do it justice whatsoever, so seeing it "in the flesh" as it were, is pretty mind-blowing. In the end, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a collection like this, so it's more than worth the few mere inconveniences that such an exhibition causes, which is why I can not but recommend going to Palazzo Fava to see the Girl with the Pearl Earring and all her friends.
But I must admit the Goldfinch was the star of the show!

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank esp67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Italy
Level 6 Contributor
255 reviews
56 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 199 helpful votes
“Beware. This is not a Vermeer Exhibition”
Reviewed April 2, 2014

As the reviews marked terrible and poor, seem only to be written in Italian, we'd like to make you aware that there are but 2 Vermeer paintings. The Girl With The Pearl Earring and an early painting Diana & Her Nymphs. You may feel the victim of a marketing scam as many people did. To see the Vermeer go through the crowds, straight to last last painting. (Your ticket allows 20 mins viewing time) so why waste it? The Myth of the Golden Age seems an appropriate title.

There are no good post cards to purchase and no mention anywhere of Tracy Chevalier whose book brought a great deal of interest to both the painting and Vermeer.

Visited March 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank peterandanna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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