Snapshots from Florence and Bologna
It’s been a fantastic four days in Florence and Bologna for Indiana University, beginning with IU and the world-renowned Uffizi Gallery teaming up for an unprecedented initiative to digitize all of the museum’s 1,200 Greek and Roman sculptures, and culminating in the 50th anniversary celebration of one of the university’s most successful study abroad programs.
Along the way in Italy, members of the IU delegation met up with old friends and acquaintances, while also making new inroads into two of Europe’s oldest and most important academic, artistic and cultural centers.
Here are several snapshots from IU’s all-too-brief but highly productive and inspirational time in Italia:
IU truly is everywhere. While previewing the magnificent Uffizi Gallery sculptures and paintings, IU President Michael A. McRobbie and first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie ran into some familiar faces from back home — recent graduates and former Hoosier athletes Matt McKain (soccer) and Gaby Olshemski (field hockey).
President McRobbie got an up-close look at one of the famous sculptures that IU will digitize in 3-D as part of its landmark agreement with the Uffizi: Lottatori (wrestlers), a first-century B.C. Roman sculpture.
President McRobbie and Bernie Frischer, IU professor of informatics, director of the university’s Virtual World Heritage Laboratory and one of the world’s leading virtual archaeologists, took a special tour of the Uffizi’s most important room, the Tribuna. Digitization work, led by Frischer, will begin this coming week on the sculptures in the room, which houses the famed Medici Venus.
The process to digitize in 3-D all of the Uffizi’s classical sculptures, such as the renowned Arianna dormiente (Sleeping Arianna), will take five years and is expected to be completed — and freely available online — by the time of IU’s bicentennial in 2020.
The views in Florence are nothing short of spectacular. Here is a view of the city’s Duomo, taken from atop the roof of the place where students in IU’s overseas study program in Florence live. The popular program is led by IU professor and Hutton Honors College Dean Andrea Ciccarelli, who was a terrific tour guide of the streets and museums of this historic city.
A magnificent fresco painted by the Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli served as the backdrop for the historic announcement between IU and the Uffizi. Beginning in the late 15th century, the fresco, titled “The Annunciation,” hung over the entrance of San Martino della Scala, a hospital situated in the main plaza of nearby Siena for those stricken with the plague.
When it was time to move on to Bologna, the IU delegation found a city bursting with history, charm and awe-inspiring ancient structures such as the Basilica of San Petronio, the main church, or Duomo, of Bologna.
Bologna also boasts the oldest continuously operating university in the Western world, the University of Bologna. Since its earliest days in the late 11th century, the university has built a reputation of international acclaim, attracting such luminaries as Thomas Becket, Erasmus of Rotterdam and Nicolaus Copernicus, among many other famous historical figures who came to the city from all over Europe to study with the university’s prominent scholars.
The Palazzo Poggi Museum at the University of Bologna showcases why the university is often called the “mother of all universities.” Here is a preserved fish, one of many unusual natural specimens from the collection of Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605), the founder of modern natural history.
All of the collections in Palazzo Poggi Museum are set against an extraordinary backdrop of 16th-century wall paintings depicting famous events and people in history, such as this one of Moses.
Movements of student protest have been a constant in Bologna, as reflected up and down the campus’s central avenue, Via Zamboni.
IU was among the first U.S. universities to establish a study abroad program at the University of Bologna. Delegations from both schools met on Friday to praise the program, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and explore the possibility of further exchanges of students and faculty.
The late IU professor Mark Musa, a renowned Dante scholar, established the bilateral exchange between IU and the University of Bologna, which has since been expanded to a consortium of 15 U.S. colleges and universities managed by IU’s Office of Overseas Study. Here, Musa’s wife, Isabella (pictured at microphone), upon learning that a student scholarship had been established in honor of her husband, surprises everyone by announcing that the celebration of the overseas study program is taking place on her husband’s birthday.
IU delegation members were among the 200 or so people who gathered in Bologna, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the IU Bologna Consortial Studies Program. The audience included past resident directors, managing directors, consortium representatives and overseas study staff, as well as many of the program’s alumni.
IU President and first lady McRobbie pose for a picture with Janis Russell, an alumnus of both IU and the IU Bologna Consortial Studies Program. Russell has gone on to become an acclaimed jazz and blues singer, who has performed for President Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela.
Talk about a reunion! At a celebratory luncheon for the Bologna program on Saturday afternoon, Janis Russell performed a rhythm and blues classic with fellow program alum Michael Brusha. The two hadn’t performed with — let alone even seen — each other since Janis sang in Michael’s band during her year (1973-74) studying in Bologna. Look for some video here soon.
Next stop: Krakow, Poland. Check back soon!
Tags: Bernie Frischer, Bologna, Digital Sculpture Project, Florence, IU Bologna Consortial Studies Program, IU Office of Overseas Study, Janis Russell, Kathleen Sideli, Laurie McRobbie, Mark Musa, Michael A. McRobbie, Palazzo Poggi Museum, Uffizi Gallery, University of Bologna