Museo vs galleria

Using Bia database and a working hypothesis. Francesco Bondicchi and the meaning of the words “museo” and “galleria”

After a quick surfing, using MAP’s Bia database as a corpus, as in linguistics, could be at least intriguing! Try a simple search in All fields (document transcriptions, document synopses, volumes, peoples, places) using the word “museo” for instance. Apart from mentions of Paolo Giovio’s Museo and Cosimo III de' Medici’s “museum”, one can also find the correspondence of Francesco Bondicchi to Apollonio Bassetti, and the latter’s “natural history museum.” “Sento ancora per essa l'arrivo de cristalli ben condizionati e mi tengo di buono che sieno piaciuti a quelli che servir devono di rinforzo al di lei museo, che spero accresceremo di qualcos'altro” (Doc ID 24472). These appearances could reveal that the word “museo” had been used mainly in relation to natural history collections or curiosities. In addition, another search using the word “galleria” this time brings rather interesting results. The word “Galleria” had been primarily applied in reference to antiquities, painting, art collecting; and art in general; apart from being used as a place index, ex. Galleria degli Uffizi. More, the above Francesco Bondicchi likewise made this distinction as “that Manfredi Settala was very upset because Marchis Lice visited his art gallery and tried having some old portraits of his family painted by Tiziano and Fede Galizia” (Doc ID 24194).
If such a semantically distinction is historically plausible, indeed, one could suspect that, if and, when the Milanese Francesco Bondicchi had read Federico Borromeo’s Musaeum, he could have first thought that the book would be about a collection of naturalia! It goes without saying that such a last hypothesis would require Bondicchi’s unawareness of Borromeo’s interests or more of his activities! Another possibility explaining this distinction could be linked with cultural connotations other than the nature of the collection. Further research on Francesco Bondicchi, and his network, needs to done for a secure, if any, answer, to the matter in question, Museo vs galleria. Nonetheless, using and exploiting Bia database seems promising for (art) historical research in digital era.

Fascinating, as it may be, indeed, could we, thus, use Bia as a text corpus, among others, to approach the meaning of a word in a certain time and context? The limitations of the number documents being transcribed, uploaded, or not, should also be taken into consideration, but not as a hinder.


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