The first Biennale was held in 1895 and the exhibition has taken place every two years since then except for a six-year break during the Second World War.
The Biennale is based in a public park in Venice called the Giardini. The Giardini now houses thirty permanent national pavilions in which nations showcase their leading artists, as well as many smaller temporary structures. The Italian pavilion, a large exhibition hall in the Giardini, houses a themed exhibition curated by the Biennale’s director.
The early years of the Venice Biennale were dominated by European art, but the exhibition now includes contributions from countries in South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Countries that do not have a pavilion within the Giardini mount exhibitions in buildings across Venice.
Another part of the formal Biennale initiated in more recent years is the curated exhibition in the Arsenale.
- See definition for biennial