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Virtual Symposium Hosted by Fenimore Art Museum Explores the Unique Issues Affecting Venice

Written By Editor on 8/17/22 | 8/17/22


Experts from the U.S. and Europe will speak on climate change, art conservation, and the impact of tourism.


The symposium is associated with the Museum’s current exhibition Unmasking Venice: American Artists and the City of Water.




Virtual Symposium on Venice: Where Art, Science, and Activism Meet

Saturday, August 27, 2022 • 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM EST

Live via Zoom • Free to the public • Registration is required; visit



Cooperstown, New York – Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, hosts the Virtual Symposium on Venice: Where Art, Science, and Activism Meet on Saturday, August 27, 2022, from 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. EST. The program offers experts in various fields the opportunity to discuss the impact of Venice on the world and how the world is now impacting the future of this historic city. Presenters representing a broad spectrum of expertise will touch on areas such as climate change, art conservation, and the impact of tourism. Each speaks out with a common goal of protecting and preserving a city that has dramatically shaped many facets of Western culture. The symposium is free to the public. Registration is required; please visit for more information.


“Fenimore Art Museum is most closely associated with American art. We are excited to go beyond our borders, exploring how artistic influences can cross oceans with dramatic effects,” said Danielle Henrici, Fenimore Art Museum’s Director of Education. “The broad range of speakers participating in this symposium are leading experts in their respective fields. I am confident attendees will find themselves well-informed and deeply inspired to take action to preserve our globally shared cultural heritage.”


The Symposium begins with remarks by Dr. Frederick Ilchman (Curator of Paintings, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). Presenters include Melissa Conn, Director of the Venice Office of Save Venice (The Art and Science of Saving Venice: Highlights of 50 Years of Save Venice's Conservation Work); Jane da Mosto, Executive Director, We are here Venice (Venice NOW: How We Got Here and Where We Might Be Going); Davide Zanchettin, Associate ProfessorUniversity Ca'Foscari of Venice (Sea Level Variations in Venice in the Context of Global Climate Changes); and Fabio Carrera, Director, Venice Project Center (Repopulating Venice: The Mission of SerenDPT). Afterwards, audience members will take part in a Q&A session.


This project is made possible with the generous support of Art Bridges.


The symposium is associated with Fenimore Art Museum’s current exhibition Unmasking Venice: American Artists and the City of Water which features paintings, etchings, and 3-dimensional objects that explore the two Venetian worlds depicted by American artists during the late 19th, early 20th and 21st centuries. The “picturesque” demonstrates the attraction to Venice felt by American tourists, while the “realistic” depicts the grittier realism of an everyday Venetian’s life. The exhibition is on view through September 5, 2022. This is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as part of the Art Bridges Initiative. Visit for more information.





About the Presenters and Talk Descriptions:

Moderator: Dr. Frederick Ilchman

As specialist in the art of Renaissance Venice, Frederick Ilchman is Chair, Art of Europe, and the Mrs. Russell W. Baker Curator of Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He holds an A.B. from Princeton University and a Ph.D. from Columbia University, both in art history. Frederick he has curated or co-curated such exhibitions as Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice (MFA and Musée du Louvre, 2009), Goya: Order and Disorder (MFA, 2014), Casanova’s Europe (Kimbell Art Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and MFA, 2017), and Tintoretto: Painter of Renaissance Venice (Palazzo Ducale and National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2018). He also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Save Venice Inc., the largest private organization devoted to art conservation in Venice.




Melissa Conn, Director of the Venice Office of Save Venice

Melissa Conn is the Director of the Venice office of Save Venice, an American non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the artistic heritage of Venice. A long-time resident of Venice with thirty-three years of experience working for Save Venice in the field of Venetian art history and conservation, Conn coordinates Save Venice's art restoration projects and oversee the Rosand Library and Study Center at Save Venice. In addition, she is the director of the restoration track of Save Venice's Women Artists of Venice program, launched in March 2021. Conn is a frequent lecturer in Italy and the United States on the preservation of Venetian art. Born and raised in Salem, Ohio, Melissa Conn has a degree in art history from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She is married to Venetian architect Fabrizio Tibolla and has two sons, Sebastiano (22) and Lorenzo (18).


  • Presentation: The Art and Science of Saving Venice: Highlights of 50 Years of Save Venice's Conservation Work


The presentation will be an overview of Save Venice's art conservation projects since the organization's founding in 1971. Melissa Conn will discuss the problems of art conservation in the harsh Venetian climate and use examples of our conservation projects including mosaics, frescoes, paintings, sculptures, and building facades.




Jane da Mosto, Co-Founder and Executive Director of We are here Venice (WahV)

Jane da Mosto (MA University of Oxford, MSc Imperial College London) is an environmental scientist and activist based in Venice, co-founder of the NGO We are here Venice. Operating across many different disciplines, WahV has a mission to change the future of the city, highlighting the need to protect the lagoon and rebuild a more resilient resident population. Jane’s books include: The Science of Saving Venice (Umberto Allemandi, 2004), The Venice Report (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Acqua in Piazza (Linea d’acqua 2016). Contributions include “Making Time for Conversations of Resistance” in Feminist Futures of Spatial Practice (Spurbuch, M. Schalk et al, 2017), “Practicing Civic Ecology: Venice and the Lagoon” in Care and Repair (MIT Press, Angelika Fitz et al, 2019), “The Venice Paradox” in Aroop special edition on Failure (Raza Foundation, 2020). Alongside WahV specific projects, Jane is active in the community and is President of Pan di Zenzero, a pedagogical project for early childhood. In 2017 she was honoured with the Osella d’Oro by the city of Venice and in 2021 she received the Fondazione Masi prize for “vision and courage.”

  • Presentation: Venice NOW: How We Got Here and Where We Might Be Going

The mission of We are here Venice is to ensure that Venice remains a living city. This depends on analysis and actions regarding the human dimension of the city and the current imbalance between falling numbers of residents versus growing mass tourism as well as the interrelationship between the built fabric and the encircling lagoon system. Jane da Mosto’s talk will cover some of the causes and effects of major changes over time and what can still be done to revive Venice as an example of sustainability and prosperity.



Davide Zanchettin, Associate Professor at the Ca'Foscari University of Venice

Davide Zanchettin is associate professor at the Ca'Foscari University of Venice, where he currently teaches classes on various topics of the geophysics at the Master and PhD levels. He is also affiliated with the Euro-Mediterranean Center for Climate Change and the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. Among his research interests are the study of decadal climate variability and predictability, particularly for the North Italian region, and the study of marine circulation in the Mediterranean Sea and the Lagoon of Venice by means of numerical models. He has coauthored more than seventy papers on international peer-reviewed scientific journals and coauthored an award-winning book on climate change in 2010. He is currently coordinating scientific research to define future climate change scenarios for Venice.


  • Presentation: Sea Level Variations in Venice in the Context of Global Climate Changes


Venice and its lagoon symbolize "the people’s victorious struggle against the elements as they managed to master a hostile nature" (UNESCO, 1987). Indeed, Venice has been preserved practically unaltered for centuries in an unstable equilibrium maintained by subjecting the ecotone to a series of anthropic interventions to contrast its natural evolution. The frailty of the site is clearly evidenced by the flooding events, named "acqua alta,” that periodically afflict Venice. The increase of the impacts of flooding events in Venice during the 20th century and in the last two decades has stimulated the development of predictive tools and the search for adequate protective measures. The storm surge event of November 12, 2019, reaching a peak water height of 189 cm (only surpassed by the record event of 1966), has awakened the public perception about the vulnerability of the site toward the "irreversible natural and climatic changes" already mentioned by UNESCO. A substantial future increase of the mean relative sea level in Venice, as a consequence of global warming, may cause very serious damages to the site, both in terms of degradation of the historical center and destruction of the lagoonal ecosystem. This talk will illustrate the many geodynamical and meteo-climatic factors that contribute to sea level variations in Venice, along a narrative thread that connects past, present, and possible future scenarios for this world heritage site.




Fabio Carrera, Director of the WPI Venice Project Center and Founder of SerenDPT

Fabio Carrera was born in Venice and has been a professor at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) since 1988, when he founded the WPI Venice Project Center. He also founded and directs the Santa Fe Project Center, which is dedicated to Indigenous issues. In 2017, Fabio founded SerenDPT (Serenissima Development and Preservation through Technology), a benefit company with the mission of repopulating the historic city of Venice by fostering the creation of innovative, non-extractive jobs for young people of all ages and Venetians of any origin. SerenDPT operates the H3 Factory, a startup incubator in the ex-church of Saints Cosmas and Damian on the Giudecca island in Venice. SerenDPT is the lead organization for the Venice Case Study of the EU Horizon research project called SmartDest, investigating the exlusion of residents due to the overreliance on the tourism economy. In 2022, SerenDPT launched the MITdesignX program, where MIT faculty will accompany 10 startups from ideation to launch every year at the H3 Factory.


  • Presentation: Repopulating Venice: The Mission of SerenDPT


Fabio Carrera presents the work of SerenDPT (SERENissima Development and Preservation through Technology) which includes the Venice Project Center research, as well as other research like SmartDest (on overtourism) and initiatives to support the creation of startups (and jobs) to repopulate the city like MITdesigX Venice.




About Fenimore Art Museum
Fenimore Art Museum, located on the shores of Otsego Lake—James Fenimore Cooper’s “Glimmerglass”—in historic Cooperstown, New York, features a wide-ranging collection of American art including folk art; important American 18th- and 19th-century landscape, genre, and portrait paintings; more than 125,000 historic photographs representing the technical developments made in photography and providing extensive visual documentation of the region’s unique history; and the renowned Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art comprised of nearly 900 art objects representative of a broad geographic range of North American Indian cultures, from the Northwest Coast, Eastern Woodlands, Plains, Southwest, Great Lakes, and Prairie regions. Visit 

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