Troyes Cathedral: Stained Glass

Brad Lenz, Henrietta Miers, Crystal Terry, and Hanna Wiegers

Spring 2015

Project Website

This project concerns a piece of 13th Century stained glass from the Brummer Collection in the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. The scene, of which only half remains in the hands of the Nasher, depicts God instructing Adam and Eve at the tree of knowledge. This fragment is in poor condition; its structure is damaged, and its color is dimmed. Our handling of the object was limited, which limited our ability to directly infer the original colors from the piece itself. In order to better understand what the piece may have looked like in its original location within the Saint Pierre-Saint Paul Cathedral at Troyes, we created a digitally recolored version of the window and positioned it in a 3D model of the cathedral.

Statues Speak

Faculty Advisors: Elizabeth Baltes, Coastal Carolina University; Sheila Dillon, Duke University

Undergraduate Fellows: Jessica Williams, Christy Kuesel, Darrah Panzarella, Mary Kate Weggeland


Statues are all around us, but we often walk past them without reflecting on who or what they represent. Once shiny new landmarks in the built environment, statues can become invisible over time. In our hurry to get from one place to another, we do not stop to read the inscriptions that often tell us why the statue was set up. In any case, the information given on the statue base is only part of the story. Statues can “speak” to us in many ways, but what if we could actually give them a voice? What would they want to tell us about themselves?

This project, a collaboration between undergraduate students and faculty at Duke University and Coastal Carolina University, aims to help statues speak, to help them tell their own stories. By combining historical research with mobile and web technologies, we will present the “autobiographies” of the statues on Duke’s campus, exploring how they fit into the fabric of Duke’s history and the long-standing practice of setting up honorific portrait statues.


Water and Food in Venice. Stories of the Lagoon and the City

Kristin Lanzoni

Spring-Summer 2015

Project Website

Venice was created as a series of transitions from mainland to lagoon, from lagoon to the Mediterranean, and eventually to a network of ports and islands that became part of an empire of commerce. The original settlement, built on low tidal islands, was created in a precarious balance between the land and water, the community permeated by canals in a continuous, complex and skillfully leveraged relationship. The contrast between ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ has always been a distinctive feature of the city, an emblem of Venetians’ inventiveness and tenacity as well as of nature’s destructive and transformative force.

The lagoon therefore conditions the city: they exist in a contrapuntal dialogue, the voice of each essential to the whole. This profound connectedness between Venice and the lagoon is expressed in historic maps, which show the city in the center, defended by a cordon of beaches that separate and protect it from the open sea: a lagoon full of islands of fields, churches and clock towers. The co-existence of fishing, hunting, and agriculture (the cultivation of all kinds of fruits and vegetables, vineyards and herbs) in the lagoon habitat both permitted and promoted Venice’s development. Religious communities were vital nodes in a system of food production and trade: starting in the earliest centuries after the founding of Venice, a series of island monasteries supported a stable galaxy of farms, saltworks, mills, and fish producers.

Historic images of Venice show another unique feature of Venice: a city without enclosing walls. The lagoon, with its strategically located forts, religious establishments, hospitals and quarantine stations, was the real ‘wall’ of the city. Venice redesigned the natural landscape, and sometimes with majestic architecture, to protect itself from human enemies and disease.

Our exhibition, Water and Food in Venice. Stories of the Lagoon and the City, opening September 26, 2015 at the Ducal Palace, is the result of a long-term research initiative developed by an international team of young historians of art, architecture and cities. The group includes experts in mapping, modeling and multimedia from Iuav (Venice), Padua and Duke Universities: Water and Food in Venice is the first public-facing presentation of the multifaceted collaboration that began in 2010 as “Visualizing Venice,” the joint inspiration of Caroline Bruzelius (Duke University) and Donatella Calabi (University IUAV of Venice).

A key feature of the exhibition is to model how the support systems for the Republic of Venice addressed questions that are critical on a global scale to us today: supplying densely-inhabited communities with fresh food and water. The exhibition offers the opportunity to consider historical models for large-scale environmental management in a setting unique in its challenges and diversity. The exhibition forms part of larger initiatives connected with the 2015 International Exposition in Milan, “Feeding the Planet.”

Venice Interactive Visual Atlas (VIVA)

Kristin Lanzoni

Spring 2014 - present

The Venice Interactive Visual Atlas (VIVA) is an emerging website that will provide access to information about Venice through interactive historical views, maps, and surveys of Venice. Because of its remarkable archive, Venice is one the best documented cities in Europe, with vast information on the history of the city, its monuments, and its institutions. The VIVA website is conceived as a vehicle that brings the history of the city to scholars, students, and the general public by visualizing data on historic maps and cadasters. This digital atlas of Venice, unlike traditional atlases, permits the dynamic visualization of information about transformation and change of the city as a whole.

Venice Virtual World

Kristin Lanzoni, Nicola Lercari

Fall 2013 - December 2014

This project has recreated the life of Venice—its buildings, bridges, boats, gardens, and inhabitants—in a 3-D virtual environment. The focus is on the now completely transformed zone of the city around the train station. Using old maps, plans, and costume books, students have reconstructed Venice as it appeared in 1740. The outcome, to be completed in December 2014, will be a navigable virtual world with digital storytelling.

Visualizing Venice

Caroline Bruzelius, Kristin Lanzoni, Mark Olson, Victoria Szabo, Iara Dundas


Project Website

This project began in 2009 as an initiative that uses archival sources (documents, plans, images) to map growth and change in the city of Venice. It is a collaboration with the University of Venice (IUAV) and the Department of Engineering at the University of Padua. The team now consists of about 30 faculty, post-docs and graduate students, and at Duke we are developing a series of inititives that also involve undergraduates in courses and in independent research projects with Prof. Kristin Lanzoni. A new initiative is being developed with the Nicholas School of Duke University that explores the connection between the natural and man-made environments of the city of Venice and its lagoon. We have set up a digital laboratory at Venice International University and had our first international training workshop there.