Representing Early Modern Venice
Augmented Reality Experiences in Exhibitions
Two early modern prints that represent Venice—Jacopo de’ Barbari’s View of Venice, ca. 1500, and Ludovico Ughi’s Iconographica rappresentatione della inclita città di Venezia, 1729— were the focal points of two interactive, multimedia exhibitions at Duke University in 2017 and 2019. The overall intention of these exhibitions was to enhance visitors’ engagement with, and understanding of, the value of historic representations of places and spaces, while expanding cultural understandings of Venice, past and present. Placed in conversation with augmented reality (AR) technology, the novelty of the prints mirrored the methodological innovations of digital art history. The AR installations in each exhibition connected viewers with historic and present-day representations of Venice through virtual layers of information that encouraged them to return to the original objects for close engagement. This article describes the AR displays within the 2017 and 2019 exhibitions at Duke and presents the results of visitor interaction based on anonymous data and observation. It also documents AR installation strategies and methods, and it anticipates AR’s applications and expansions for public-facing art historical scholarship. Finally, it shares these processes and findings in an effort to assist colleagues in the advancement of future installations at academic, museum, and cultural heritage institutions.