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Washington and Lee University Receives Grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation All funds will support W&L students with Professor George Bent’s digital humanities project “Florence As It Was.”

BentGeorge-1-scaled-600x400 Washington and Lee University Receives Grant from the Samuel H. Kress FoundationGeorge Bent, Sidney Gause Childress Professor of the Arts

The Samuel H. Kress Foundation announced that Washington and Lee University has been selected to receive a grant totaling $14,820 to support student researchers with the ongoing digital humanities project “Florence As It Was.”

George Bent, the Sidney Gause Childress Professor of the Arts at W&L, leads the project, which reconstructs the city of Florence, Italy as it appeared at the end of the 15th century. “Florence As It Was” creates an interactive experience to review, inspect and visit the streets, palaces, churches, shops and offices that formed the fabric of one of Europe’s most vibrant cities.

Work on the digital project began in 2016 and has involved no fewer than 20 W&L students over the years, along with critical technical assistance from both David Pfaff, academic technologist in the Integrative and Quantitative Center, and Mackenzie Brooks, who serves as associate professor and digital humanities librarian. The trio published an article on the city’s digital reconstruction in the Heritage Science Journal this fall.

Bent has spent the 2022-23 academic year on sabbatical in Florence, continuing his work alongside students Ava Boussy ’23, Julia Brinker ’25, Eloise Penner ’23 and Kelsie Westmoreland ’24.

“We are deeply appreciative of the support shown us by the Samuel Kress Foundation,” said Bent. “Their generosity will permit students the opportunity to learn new technical processes while examining key monuments of cultural heritage. The world of digital humanities expands almost daily, and it’s gratifying to know that ‘Florence As It Was’ has the means to retain its position in the vanguard of this academic movement.”

The Samuel H. Kress Foundation devotes its resources to advancing the study, conservation and enjoyment of the vast heritage of European art, architecture and archaeology from antiquity to the early 19th century. The organization supports the work of individuals and institutions engaged with the appreciation, interpretation, preservation, study and teaching of the history of European art and architecture from antiquity to the dawn of the modern era.

Bent has been a member of the W&L faculty since 1993. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and a master’s and doctorate degree from Stanford University.

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