Humanities Studio 2: Homeless Paintings of the Italian Renaissance: A Hands on Curatorial Experiment


In our first studio section last week for Humanities Studio 2, we had the opportunity to get a virtual tour of Villa i Tatti‘s phenomenal photography archive, the Fototeca, as well as of the villa itself and its grounds. A big thanks to Giovanni Pagliarulo, Curator of the Berenson Art Collection, and his team.

Villa i Tatti Virtual Tour


The students’ assignment for the first week’s studio was simply to get to know the platform we are using in the course to investigate, organize, annotate, and curate the collection: Curarium. The students were told to pick a single object from the Homeless Paintings archive and try to locate it using a variety of search tools. For those who haven’t heard of Bernard Berenson’s Homeless Paintings, it is a collection of over 11,000 art objects that have been lost or stolen, but for which there exists a photographic record.

The majority of these paintings and art objects have been lost for at least 60 years and we emphasized to the students that their goal should not be to find the painting they chose to search for, but, rather, to look for it. It was important to us the process: they they get to know Curarium as a platform, that they learn to search within it, to understand the metadata, to create spotlights (like dynamic blogs) within the platform to ‘turn in’ as proof of hours logged on the hunt.

To my great surprise, two students showed up claiming that they had found their paintings. To my even greater surprise, they’d found them at two of the world’s most renowned museums, and they’d found them doing simple google searches.

Can we trust the attributions of these students? You be the judge (Click on the links in the captions to view the images on their host sites):

Dominic Ferrante searched for Curarium record #8775:

Barna da Siena – Christ on the Cross with the Virgin, the Holy Women, St. John the Evangelist, Nicodemus and soldiers


-google search of artist and title
-google search of artist and ‘triptych’
-google search of artist and ‘pelican’
-searched Barna da Siena in The Amica Library
-google image searched portions of the paintings
-got a hit at the Fondazione Federico Zeri (Università di Bologna)

Final Location: Musee du Louvre (Paris) Dep. of Painting, Inventory # RF 1984-31

Curarium Record Curarium Record

Louvre Record Louvre Record


Ben Zauzmer searched for Curarium record #41:

Andrea Mantegna – Bacchanal with Silenus 


Check out his Spotlight (still in the beta stage) on Curarium for details on his find.

Mantegna Spotlight