The delicate and refined art of glass bead making is an extraordinary chapter in the history of Murano glass. Used in the past as an exchange currency even as far as the New World, the beads with their unexpected miniaturised decorations, perfect in every shade of colour, are still a precious accessory today.

The Museo del Vetro di Murano, which owns perhaps the world’s largest existing collection and exemplars of glass beads, presents the frst major scientifc study of these small precious artefacts, undertaken by Augusto Panini. His work has led to the publication of a book on the collection of beads held in the museum’s storage rooms. The collection consists of the original folders, silk panels from 1862 sewn with beads, new folders containing material removed from original folders, loose beads, bundles of beads, and a jewellery collection made up of brooches, necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

The quality and quantity of this vast patrimony focuses awareness on how Abbot Vincenzo Zanetti, the historical founder of the Museo del Vetro, already recognised in the nineteenth century not only the value of such an exhaustive collection of a product that represented a vital economic source, but also its artistic, social and historical worth.