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This architect couple collects artwork and architectural models from 17th- to 19th-century Europe

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David Weingarten and Lucia Howard may be the biggest collectors of Grand Tour artifacts

Architects David Weingarten and Lucia Howard of Lafayette, California, have collected over 4,000 pieces of artwork and architectural souvenirs from the 17th- to 19th-century Europe, transforming their home into a de facto gallery and museum.

Most of their pieces, which consist of Italian paintings of ruins, replicas of iconic buildings, etchings, and other decorative arts, come from the time of the Grand Tour, an educational rite of passage that sent English and French college-aged students to Italy and particularly Rome to study European art and culture.

The husband-and-wife duo may be the biggest collectors of such artifacts, having started their hunt 40 years ago—which is why they created a two-story addition to their home, a gallery specifically designed to display their wares, which are organized by country. They’ve even started a business, Piraneseum, to connect other Grand Tour-enthusiasts with their objets.

“There are an awful lot of ways to be an architect,” Weingarten says. “And one way is to design buildings. But I think with the collection, it’s another way of being an architect.” To learn more, watch the video above.