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