The European Renaissance was marked by new knowledge and a sense of possibilities – as well as risks - that it opened up. At stake across the board were its theories and technologies, its exhilarations and anxieties. Both practical inventions and intellectual upheavals pushed at the boundaries of the known world: the human mind stretched along trajectories as diverse as scientific research, geographical expansion, new educational curricula, theological shifts, medical discoveries and legal developments, to name only a few. While the Crossroads project explores the methods and motives and knowing in this simultaneously energised and insecure culture by focusing on the intervention of imaginative writing and practice in wider conversations about the process, psychology and ethics of knowing, this exhibition explores the material locations of knowledge. It is premised on the conviction that the process of knowing was inseparable from the physical spaces where knowledge was produced, drawn, disseminated, discovered or concealed. In visually bringing alive the ways in which knowledge took place, it also uncovers the links between the cultures of image-making and knowledge-making. Its horizon is early modern Europe, and its temporal span between 1500 and 1700.
The exhibition is divided into ten sections, each representing a space of knowing, whether conventional or surprising. The organisational principle is an inward progression - from open, public places of epistemic transactions of performance, towards increasingly private, even intimate locations which inflected acts of knowing distinctly. A textual commentary frames images either depicting these spaces or evoking their functional or symbolic aspects through objects associated with them, placing them in a historical and conceptual context. Hosted by the Fitzwilliam Museum, this exhibition displays some of the rich holdings in their image and artefact collections, as well as images and texts from other repositories in Cambridge and beyond.
The homepage is visualised as a maze: to enter a space, click on a red dot. You can zoom in on an image by clicking the magnifying glass in the top left-hand corner. Some images have hotspots, which you can click to find out more. At any time, you can click on the maze icon (top left) to return to the homepage, or on the menu icon (top right) to go to a tabular list of contents. You can toggle the music on or off by clicking the red musical note next to the menu icon.