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Boston, Massachusetts

Diorama of Venetian Palace

One woman’s obsession gave birth to this lovely oddity at the Boston Public Library. 

In the main room of the small North End branch of the Boston Public Library, you’ll find an exact replica of the Venetian Doge’s Palace (known as the Palazzo Ducale in Italian).

This unexpected treasure was the life’s work of Miss Henrietta Macy, a Boston school teacher who later moved to Venice and fell in love with the architecture of the palace. As a way to entertain the children of a friend, she made a clay replica of the building, one of the gems of the city. After the childrens’ tragic death from diptheria several months later, Macy constructed a larger model that took her several years to complete. She hoped it would entertain many children in memory of those lost.

Unbelievably, the model was destroyed en route to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the woman once again took up the task of creating a second version of the artwork. She died before it was completed; since its installment at the Library, another Massachusetts woman has finished it and added details to create a scene from the city’s golden era during the sixteenth century.