Group Work : GIS technology to map the movement of artworks

Work project by Erica Bernardi, Arianna Farina, Danielle Guimares, Myriam Pilutti Namer, Yannick Rochat, Dario Rodighiero, coordinated by Olivier Dalang.

The idea of this project is to use the GIS technology to map the movement of artworks, transforming static information condensed in archives into an interactive geographical map. The product will be a web-based instrument available to the public, able to follow the traces of all artworks passing by Venice.


As group, we agree on the fact that this application can be useful to better comprehend what was the role of Venice during the Renaissance, looking in details which families directed the most antique collections through the city. Looking at the flows of art, people can comprehend how collection have been assembled and dispersed not only in the territory, but also through the time. More traces can be seen entering in the flows, looking at which single pieces, statues, panels have been involved in each movement.

GIS technology has been chosen because is a geographic standard, free and easy to use.


To carry out this work, we identified the platform in QGIS, a free and open source Geographic Information System. Then we have chosen a library to get information about the artwork movement, concentrating the researches to the Collection Grimani’s artworks. For the technical perspective, the database has been defined according to the information extracted from library’s document and the idea to show the artworks movements. The database has been filled with data, and we created queries to transfer information into the GIS layers.

Many challenges can be addressed to make this idea successful: 1) to filter results by filter information by temporality; 2) to consider uncertainty of dates, and manage it using a parameter of incertitude; 3) to define a collection before and after the act to be part of something; 4) to think the way to integrate other data sources; 5) to imagine different views of artworks movements to better understand specific issues such as tracking copies, missing artworks and provenience.


The interface resulting from this short workshop helped us to comprehend the importance of geographical and time visualizations we envisioned before starting the project. This project could interest arts auction houses for example, which have well-filled databases, to make a huge cartography of all the artworks that passed through them.
Opposed to a private use, we can envision a public way to use this system: an open data application where all public institutes can upload the relatives catalogs and contribute to the creation of a collective use.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s