In 2020, the Making and Knowing Project releasedSecrets of Craft and Nature in Renaissance France, an open-access digital edition of an anonymous late sixteenth-century French technical manuscript containing over 900 "recipes" for art objects and technical processes. Over the previous five years, hundreds of collaborators worked to create this edition, including by laboratory reconstructions of the recipes. What lessons for the histories of science and art do we learn from such hands-on history? This lecture will introduce the Project and its edition, and discuss the insights the Project gained into obscure materials, lost techniques, implausible mixtures, and the material and conceptual world of craftspeople in the sixteenth century.
Pamela H. Smith, Seth Low Professor of History at Columbia University and Founding Director of the Center for Science and Society