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Preserving the Material Culture of Venice

Preserving the Material Culture of Venice

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Jan 19, 2012
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1An Interactive Qualifying Project ReportSubmitted to the faculty of theWORCESTER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTEIn partial fulfillment on the requirements for theDegree of Bachelor of Science
Submitted By:
Jonathan FitzgibbonChristopher KazanoviczNicholas LimaCourtney Rosales
Project Advisors:
Fabio CarreraFrederick Bianchi
Submitted On:
December 17, 2011
I. Abstract
The purpose of this project was to work under the auspices of UNESCO to promote thepreservation and restoration of Venetian material culture. Consisting of over 7,000 individualpieces compiled by WPI project teams over the past 20 years, this collection constitutes the mostcomplete and comprehensive catalog of Venetian material culture to date. By centralizing thecatalog on the Venipedia.org site through the creation of over 3,000 wiki pages, our group wasable to make data readily available to the public. In addition, we expanded the database by 127decorative keystones and added over 50 traditional Venetian watercraft to the catalog. As ameans of further publicizing the catalog, we created an augmented reality mobile applicationcapable of providing users with information pertaining to individual pieces of public art while inthe streets of Venice. Finally, we established a priority and cost analysis system, to be used inconjunction with crowdsourcing, in order raise awareness and collect donations for therestoration of these pieces.
II. Executive Summary
Material culture consists of any artifact that tells something about the traditions, beliefs,or values of a society. Encompassing a wide range of artifacts,material culture can be further divided into two maincategories: monumental culture and vernacular culture.Monumental culture generally consists of large, visuallystriking items; in Venice, this includes sites such
as the Doge‟sPalace and St. Mark‟s Basilica.
Conversely, vernacular cultureconsists of hand-crafted artifacts made by artisans, craftsmen,and the general populace. Though these works are typicallyless remarkable to the general public, they remain invariablyimportant to the heritage and culture of the community inwhich they exist.Located throughout Venice is a wide and variedcollection of vernacular art which includes such items as coats of arms sculptures, small statues,and decorative wellheads. Another form of vernacular culture in Venice are antique boats, whichare dwindling in number despite the rich maritime history of the city. All of these artifacts
constitute a major component of the city‟s vernacular culture
and some date back as far as 1,000years. Unfortunately, many of these items are in a state of disrepair. Without proper care andmaintenance these pieces will continue to degrade until they are lost forever. The preservation of these works would be greatly facilitated with anaccurate and complete record of Venetianvernacular artifacts.A catalog of 6,864 individual pieces of public art has been created thanks to twenty yearsof project work by Worcester PolytechnicInstitute students who have collaborated withsuch organizations as Earthwatch, Archeoclub Italia, and the United Nations Educational,Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This collection constitutes the most completeand comprehensive catalog of material culture in Venice. However, this data was looselyorganized and stored in standalone, offline databases making it difficult to access. As a means of 
Figure 2: Timeline of a Deteriorated Coat of Arms Sculpture inCannaregioFigure 1: A monument and two gondolas, allexamples of Venetian material culture

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