The Digital Mellini research project, a collaboration between the Getty Research Institute and the Department of Art History of the University of Málaga, Spain, takes an unpublished 17th-century manuscript—Pietro Mellini's 1681 rhyming inventory of paintings and drawings from his family's collection in Rome—as a point of departure. This unique document, held in the Special Collections of the Getty Research Institute, is at once an inventory of highlights from the collection of a prominent Roman family and a poetic text that assumes a certain visual and literary background on the part of its readers. The manuscript provides crucial primary evidence to art historians and other scholars who focus on provenance research, collecting patterns and habits, the social construction of taste, textual analysis of historical documents, and transfers of cultural capital.
The research team, led by Murtha Baca of the Getty Research Institute and Nuria Rodríguez Ortega of the University of Málaga, will publish the inventory online, building the manuscript into a more complex digital workspace that takes advantage of a wide range of technology tools and Web resources. The project will also explore Web 2.0 methods of social information gathering and sharing to create a new kind of living, collaborative publication that offers expanded opportunities for research and communication. The broader goals of the project are threefold: first, to make this uniquely valuable scholarly resource widely available to researchers in art history and other fields of study, from linguistics to social history; second, to explore new methods and tools for digital publication with other art historians; and third, to develop a model for building collaborative digital publications that incorporate facsimiles of historical texts, computational tools for linguistic and visual analysis, and forums for scholarly communication and knowledge sharing.
Digital Mellini is built around an unpublished 17th-century manuscript located in the Research Institute's Special Collections. The research team is actively seeking out points of intersection with other research projects concerned with collecting and provenance and cultivating links with the work of the Getty Vocabulary Program, the Provenance Index ®, and tools like Iconclass.
The research team will produce a digital critical edition of Pietro Mellini's previously unpublished 1681 inventory, including a critical essay, facsimile, transcription, and translations into English and Spanish, as well as a research area for scholars and graduate students who will be able to annotate the document. Project researchers will also publish a number of art-historical and methodologically oriented scholarly articles.