The Galleries take their name from the Accademia of Belle Arti with which they had shared the same seat until 2004. They are housed in the agglomeration of: the ancient church of Santa Maria della Carità, the Scuola Grande della Carità and the monastery of the Lateran Canons, designed by Andrea Palladio. The galleries house the best and most important works of Venetian and Veneto art made between the XIV and XVIII centuries.
Among the numerous famous artists are works by Jacopo Bellini, Vittore Carpaccio, Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoretto, Titian, Giambattista Tiepolo, Canaletto, Guardi and Longhi. In particular, there around 20 masterpieces by Jacopo Tintoretto that cover an extensive period of time beginning from the Miracle of the Slave of 1548, made for the Scuola Grande of San Marco. It also houses the disturbing, hallucinating but powerful canvases by Hieronymus Bosch, such as Triptych of Santa Liberata, Four Visions of the Afterlife and Triptych of the Hermits.
Since its foundation the Accademia has acquired works of art for the teaching of young artists and for restoration; then, with the fall of the Serenissima (1797), important monuments were stripped of many of their masterpieces and this institution performed a fundamental role in preserving these artistic jewels that risked being dispersed. It was officially instituted in 1807 by Napoleonic decree as an evolution of the pre-existing Academia of Painters and Sculptors, already active since 1750 near the Fonteghetto della Farina in San Marco; in this case it was re-founded - with the same statue of the Accademie already established in Milan and Bologna - in the new seat of the Carità complex, then cleared of the Lateran Canons and the old Scuola della Carità.
After important works implemented by Giannantonio Selva to adapt the buildings and the spaces were concluded in 1811, the galleries were opened to the public for the first time - even if only for a brief period - in 1817, with a large turnout of visitors.
Many people do not know that it is precisely here in these walls - even if it is only exhibited on some occasions - that the celebrated drawing by Leonardo da Vinci depicting the human proportions according to the anthropometric canons of the roman architect Vitruvius Pollio of the 1st century B.C. is kept, more commonly known as the Vitruvian Man. The drawing has been kept in the Gallerie dell’Accademia since 1822, when the Austrian Government acquired it - along with twenty-five other extraordinary drawings by Leonardo - from the Milanese collector Giuseppe Bossi, who managed to publish it in 1810, after centuries of oblivion.