Renaissance Italian courts. Heaven and hell. Food and drink. Together, this strange grouping of bygone places, transcendental afterworlds, and life-sustaining essentials represents three unique online experiences that have recently been prepared by the curators in the manuscripts department and presented via the Google Cultural Institute.
Earlier this spring and summer, we debuted a virtual exhibition complementing Renaissance Splendors of the Northern Italian Courts, an exhibition in the Getty’s manuscripts gallery drawn from the permanent collection. Online—from a laptop, smartphone, or tablet—visitors can expand their journey through works on parchment, panel, and paper drawn from collections at seven institutions in northern Italy. The virtual exhibition was designed to be used in the galleries, across the world in university classrooms, or from the comfort of home or a local coffee shop.
We were so pleased with this initiative—with the number of visits to the site, the depth of users’ exploration, and the ability to feature our exceptional high-res digital images paired with gallery text—that we recently launched Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Food in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (coinciding with our current manuscripts exhibition at the Getty, on view until January 3) and, just in time for Halloween, Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages. This last is in commemoration of one of our highly popular past exhibitions.
Each of these e-exhibition experiences will remain an evergreen record of the physical presentation at the Getty, and we hope that they will also inspire curiosity, engender learning, and contribute to interdisciplinary and global scholarship about illuminated manuscripts.