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Great audience success: the Biennale Arte 2015 attracts over 500,000 visitors

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11 | 22 | 2015

Today, November 22nd 2015, the 56th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta and curated by Okwui Enwezor, closed its gates. During the conclusive Panel, which took place in the Arena of the Central Pavilion (Giardini), the President announced the results of the Exhibition and, together with the Curator, bade farewell to the curators of the Countries, the participants and the art world.

Media attention turned out to be exceptional
, with over 8,000 accredited journalists, of which 5,450 from the foreign press and 2,650 from the Italian press.

Press coverage includes special inserts published in the foreign press, including The Financial Times, front-page headlines and jumps for dedicated reports, including Le Monde and Süddeutsche Zeitung, full page articles on the New York Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine, El Pais, and entire issues of specialized periodicals dedicated to the Exhibition, including Artforum (United States), Monopole (Germany), and Frieze (United Kingdom).

Some comments from the foreign press:
«There is no grander gathering of contemporary art works in the world than at the Venice Art Biennale, this year in its 56th incarnation. […] The Biennale is the coveted stage for the most internationally diverse metalogue of high-ranking artistic voices to be found anywhere.» Michael Kurcfeld, Los Angeles Review of Books

«An overview of the Venice Biennale in just a few words is nearly impossible.» Karen Wright, The Independent

«La Biennale de Venise est la plus grosse manifestation mondiale dans l’art contemporain et certainement la plus respectée aussi.» Judith Benhamou-Huet, Les Echos

«When art reflects strife at home. Venice Biennale pavilions for 3 countries portray the horror of conflict […]. The art often reflects the horrors at home: artists and curators, who view portraying reality as a duty, illustrate it in a range of media, and Venice becomes a platform for geopolitical frictions. Conflict is certainly visible this year in the pavilions of Iraq, Ukraine and Syria.» Farah Nayeri, International New York Times

«The ever expanded Venice Biennale, with its many collateral events scattered across the city, forces to give up on the idea of forming a comprehensive perspective on global art.» Jörg Heiser, Frieze

«Some people feel that the idea of showing art in national pavilions is an anachronistic one: wandering around this year’s Biennale, I realized how much I disagree. […] The Biennale is one of the few places that encourages such an approach to thinking about our place in the world. I’m all for it. I wish I could do it justice.» Jennifer Higgie, Frieze

The Exhibition, open to the public for almost 7 months, closed after being visited by 501,502 visitors (475,000 in 2013). Add to these the 24,065 visitors to the preview, of which 2,500 supported the Biennale’s activities by means of the Biennale Card.

Young people and students represented 31% of the total number of visitors.
The students who visited the Exhibition in groups represented 14% of the public.

Biennale Sessions
The Biennale Sessions project – dedicated to Universities, Fine Arts Academies and to institutions that develop research and training in architecture, visual arts and related fields – for the fifth year in a row encouraged groups of students and teachers to visit the Exhibition, leading to an extraordinary level of participation of foreign universities with an increase of 100% over the year 2013.
78 universities joined the project (+100% compared to the year 2013) including:
   24 Italian universities
   54 foreign universities from 4 continents and, in particular, 10 from Germany, 8 from Great Britain and 7 from the United States
3,518 university students from around the world made the visit to the Biennale Arte 2015 part of their educational curriculum, considering the Biennale as a place for study and research.

(2798 groups) participated in the educational activities and guided tours, with a 13% increase over the year 2013.
In particular:
34,671 (+10% compared to 2013) young people and students participated in the Educational activities, including 1,733 groups
21,300 (+18% compared to 2013) adults and visitors organized in groups took the guided tours
32 members of the educational staff of the Biennale accompanied visitors through the two exhibition venues.

“While the number of visitors represents a “significant” achievement (196,000 in 1999) in the history of the Biennale, it is important to us to underline that this is but one of the metrics that we consider in assessing the value and effectiveness of our work. To be more complete in our assessment, in fact, we should account not only for the number of journalists, critics, young people from the schools, and qualified visitors in the field of art, but the intensity of their visit as well, the exchange of knowledge and the enrichment that has been brought by the works of so many artists, gathered and composed by the Curator, to the many who have come to visit over the past months. This is how we measure the richness produced by the Biennale.”

“The extraordinary effort put forth in the pavilions of the participating countries and in the many collateral events, which have contributed to spreading the Biennale phenomenon throughout the city, is worthy of the highest esteem. As is the commitment and remarkable professional capacity of the many, indeed the very many, who within the Biennale and around it, together with Okwui Enwezor and his many collaborators, have contributed to this ‘great endeavour’.”

The President said “La Biennale thanks the partner Swatch for its qualified and prestigious presence, the several sponsors and many donors, and of course the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and the local institutions for their invaluable support.”

“Our thanks must also go to architect David Adjaye for his work on the design of the Exhibition.”

1.493.048 individual visitors and 8.574.978 views to the institutional website, from May 9th through November 21st.

Social Media
Likes on Facebook as of November 22nd, a 13% increase over last year
452.000 Followers on Twitter as of November 22nd, a 79% increase over last year
  28.700 Followers on Instagram as of November 22nd (account created on April 20th 2015)
  22.558 Posts on Instagram with our hashtag #BiennaleArte2015
  35.440 Posts on Instagram with our hashtag #BiennalediVenezia

with the Google Cultural Institute

On October 21st we announced the collaboration between La Biennale di Venezia and the Google Cultural Institute that makes it possible to archive and to enjoy the Biennale Arte 2015 even after it officially ends. The Exhibition may be visited online at or at At our headquarters at Ca’ Giustinian in Venice, a presentation space has been opened to introduce the technology used to put the Exhibition online, which will remain on display through January 23rd 2016.

with the Accademia di Belle Arti
Over 60
students from the Accademia di Belle Arti of Venice worked with some of the artists in the installation of their works. During the course of the Exhibition, 35 of them took part in the performances by Olaf Nicolai, Adrian Piper, Ivana Müller and in the projects by Hans Haack and Maria Eichhorn.

The ARENA in the Central Pavilion was the venue for an interdisciplinary programme of live events, the heart of which was the unabridged reading of the three volumes of Das Kapital by Karl Marx. Conceived by the Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, the ARENA hosted recitals, film screenings, performances and public debates throughout the Exhibition.

Creative Time Summit 2015 - the largest international conference on artistic and social transformations – participated in the 56th Exhibition at the invitation of the Curator Okwui Enwezor. Over 100 speakers including artists, activists, teachers, theoreticians and politicians from over 20 countries, discussed the Curriculum at the Teatro alle Tese at the Arsenale in front of 500 people from 40 different countries.

Nexus1 Creation at the Nexus of Science Technology and Art is the symposium held on November 3rd and 4th in the headquarters at Ca’ Giustinian, organized by La Biennale di Venezia and the CONNECT General Direction of the European Commission. Artists and representatives of the Art Institutions met with the coordinators of research teams in Industry and the Academic world.

November 20th marked the closing date of the successful fourth edition of the International Conference on the relationship between ‘Archives and Exhibitions’, dedicated this year to Photography and organized by La Biennale di Venezia – ASAC as part of the 56th International Art Exhibition.

89  national participations, a record number for the Art Exhibition
29  national participations in the historic pavilions at the Giardini
31  (including Italy) national participations at the Arsenale
29  national participations in the historic city centre of Venice
  5  nations participating for the first time: Grenada, Mauritius, Mongolia, Republic of Mozambique, and Republic of Seychelles
  3  nations participating this time after a lengthy absence:
Ecuador, for the first time with its own national pavilion, (1966, then with IILA), Philippines (1964), Guatemala (1954, then with IILA)
44  collateral events

The Holy See participated again this year with an exhibition in the Sale d’Armi, in the spaces restored by La Biennale to be assigned to permanent pavilions. In Principio… la parola si fece carne was the title chosen by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi (President of the Pontifical Council for Culture) for the Pavilion curated by Micol Forti (Director of the Contemporary Art Collection of the Vatican Museums).
The Italian Pavilion at the Arsenale, organized by the Ministry for the Cultural Heritage and Activities with the General Direction of Contemporary Art and Architecture and Suburban Areas, was curated by Vincenzo Trione.

Once again this year, La Biennale was directly involved in the Venice Pavilion, dedicated in the past to the Applied Arts, a history that inspired this new initiative, which goes however in a different and up-to-date direction, looking into the most recent applications of high technology. The name of the exhibition is Looking ahead. The evolution of the art of making 9 stories from Veneto: Digital—not only digital curated by Aldo Cibic.

Inaugurated in Venice on Saturday May 9th with a ceremony held at Ca’ Giustinian (Sala delle Colonne), headquarter of La Biennale di Venezia, the Exhibition was visited on September 3rd by the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, and by the Minister for the Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, Dario Franceschini. On May 8th it was visited by the Minister for Constitutional Reform and for Relations with the Parliament, Maria Elena Boschi. There were many other institutional visits by Ministers and Ambassadors.

The Exhibition catalogue is published by Marsilio Editori.

We wish to thank Swatch, the partner of the event, ENEL, the main sponsor, and the sponsors JTI (Japan Tobacco International), Artemide, Vela-Venezia Unica, illycaffè and VEDE-Venice Excellence Design.
Our warmest thanks go to our donors.
We would also like to thank Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Adecco and Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane.
We would further like to thank the Hotel Splendid Venice and Garage San Marco.
And finally our thanks go to the Ministry for the Cultural Heritage and Activities, the Institutions in our region that in various ways support La Biennale, the City of Venice, the Regione del Veneto. Our thanks must also be extended to the Marina Militare and to the Soprintendenze veneziane.