He was a Muranese priest and historian, who founded the Murano Glass Museum in 1861 with the intent to restore the lustre of Muranese glassmaking and relaunch the industry that was going through a deep crisis.
Vincenzo Zanetti dedicated his life to the study of the past, to discover the works produced in antiquity and the fame that derived from it and through the dissemination he found in it the reasons for a new development. He supported and motivated entrepreneurs while fighting for the improvement of workers' living and working conditions. He was son of Vettore Zanetti, master in conterie, as a child he worked as an apprentice in a conterie factory.
Vincenzo attended the patriarchal seminary, where he was ordained a priest in 1850. After the seminary he devoted himself to studies on history and, in particular, on the history of his island and the glass industry.
From the early 1860s, with the support of the Mayor Antonio Colleoni , he joined some Venetian personalities, who supported his proposal for the establishment of an historical archive, in which the priest wanted to collect as many documents as possible on the history of Murano.
Subsequently, he pushed for a civic glass museum to be set up that would gather the testimonies of the art of glass over the centuries, to restore importance to glass art and revive the industry that was experiencing a profound crisis. After obtaining the approval, the Museo Civico del Vetro was founded in 1861 and in 1867 the Biblioteca popolare circolante di Murano, of which Zanetti was founder and then director until his death.His work promoting glass art did not stop at the museum alone. In 1862 he obtained permission to open a drawing school applied to glass art, that over time I become the Scuola Abate Zanetti , still active after more than 150 years.
He was also one of the founders of the periodical La Voce di Murano, which led to death; moreover, his knowledge in the arts and in historical studies made him famous at national and international level. Abate Zanetti did the biography of the studies and works of the painter Sebastiano Santi made reading at the University of Venice on 22 June 1871, in which it is narrated the life of Sebastiano Santi, accompanied by the chronological catalog of the 357 models of the artist present in the Murano museum.
Vincenzo Zanetti was the author of many historical publications:
Piccola guida di Murano, Venezia, (Libreria Filippi, 1869);
Guida di Murano e delle celebri sue fornaci vetrarie (rist. anast. Venezia, 1866-1880);
Il libro d'oro di Murano ;
Il Museo Civico-Vetrario di Murano: Monografia (Classic Reprint);
Le Grandi Lastre Di Marmo Greco Nel Pavimento Tessulare Della Basilica Dei SS. Maria E Donato Di Murano ;
La Chiesa della Madonna dell'Orto in Venezia (Classic Reprint);
Del Monastero e della Chiesa di Santa Maria Degli Angeli di Murano: Memorie Storiche (Classic Reprint).
After such an industrious life, he died almost suddenly on December 7, 1883, leaving all his belongings at the museum.