Mossman Lecture: Science & Art in a 16th Century Workshop: Hands-On History in the Making and Knowing Project

McGill University Library is holding a great event in the history of science next week.

Please feel free to RSVP or share widely with interested parties.

The event is free to the public.

Best regards,

Merika Ramundo, Communications Manager

McGill Library

The Mossman Endowment of McGill University presents the Elizabeth B. McNab Lecture in the History of Science. This year’s lecture entitled “Science and Art in a Sixteenth-Century Workshop: Hands-On History in the Making and Knowing Project” will be given virtually by Professor Pamela Smith.


Monday, March 22, 2021 at 17:00 (EST) via YouTube Livestream





About the Lecture: In 2020, the Making and Knowing Project ( released Secrets 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 is Seth Low professor of history at Columbia University, and founding Director of the Center for Science and Society and of its cluster project The Making and Knowing Project ( Her articles and books examine craft and practice, and its relationship to scientific knowledge. The Body of the Artisan (2004), and her forthcoming From Lived Experience to the Written Word: Reconstructing Practical Knowledge in the Early Modern World (forthcoming Chicago) make a case for treating craft/art as a way of knowing. In the edited volumes Ways of Making and Knowing (ed. with Amy R. W. Meyers and Harold Cook, pbk 2017) and The Matter of Art (ed. with Christy Anderson and Anne Dunlop, pbk 2016). An edited volume, Entangled Itineraries: Materials, Practices, and Knowledges across Eurasia (2019), deals with the movement of material across Eurasia before 1800. In a collaborative research and teaching initiative, The Making and Knowing Project, she and the Making and Knowing Team investigate the intersection of craft making and scientific knowing by text-, object-, and laboratory-based research on the technical and artistic recipes contained in a sixteenth-century French manuscript BnF Ms. Fr. 640. In 2020 they released a digital critical edition and English Translation of the manuscript, Secrets of Craft and Nature in Renaissance France.

This lecture is supported by The Friends of McGill University Inc. The Friends of McGill University Inc. is a US corporation incorporated in 1945. It provides grants for charitable, scientific, educational, and literary activities, including providing scholarships to enable students from the US to enter McGill University.