Venice is a city unlike any in the world. Floating in the middle of a lagoon, its built and natural environments interlace— a unique morphology that has dazzled visitors, near and far, throughout its more than 1000-year-old history. A celebrated port city, pilgrimage site, and grand finale on the European tour, the city has forever capitalized on its aqueous backdrop for its spectacles. In the early modern period, the city staged elaborate festivals throughout the year for its local and foreign audiences. These ranged from floating parades and competitive games centered on festivals and religious holidays that celebrated divine interventions to one-time fêtes for heads of state. The visual wonder continued to be performed for eighteenth-century guests who came for Easter celebrations and accompanying secularized lavish festivities, often as part of the Grand Tour. Even today, Carnival, with its quintessential costuming of guests and residents alike, has remained a major attraction for the city. At these festive, commemorative, and jubilant moments, sensory experiences come alive, and the city transforms itself—on land and most especially water— into an animated tableau.

Team Venice has generated a digital repository of imagery in Omeka that documents these various festivities throughout history. Omeka, a platform that permits the inclusion of metadata and descriptive content to accompany visual imagery, has enabled Team Venice to catalogue different events according to each member’s academic interests. Neatline, a plugin for Omeka, has supported the spatial connections of imagery with specific sites in Venice as indicated on an historic map. This geo-rectifiable base map of the city, created by Ludovico Ughi and first published in 1729 in Venice, showcases an original version owned by Duke University’s Rubenstein Library. Using these two digital, online platforms, Omeka and Neatline, team members have generated exhibits that visually capture moments of various events and the sites where they took place. They include the annual November procession from Piazza San Marco to the seventeenth-century church of Santa Maria della Salute; the Feast of the Ascension (La Sensa in Venetian dialect) when the doge pledges his allegiance in marriage to the Adriatic Sea; the Coronation Ceremony of a Dogaressa, wife of the Doge as head of state, and finally, a pilgrim’s visitation to various holy sites on route to the Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

Visualization of interactive Neatline exhibit showing explorable sites of Venetian spectacle atop the map by Ludovico Ughi (first published in Venice, 1729). Image courtesy of Team Venice (Kristin L. Huffman, Ian Acriche, Daniel Block, and Kate MacCary).

Team Venice is led by Kristin L. Huffman with support from Nicole Y. Gaglia and Hannah Jacobs. Contributors include Ian Acriche, Daniel Block, and Kate MacCary.