Skip to content

Study Abroad Student Report: Anne Clare Duncan

During the May 2024 mini-term, I participated in the Applied Human Factors in Art in Italy study abroad trip. This industrial engineering trip took place in Florence, Italy. We experienced cultural outings and visits to artisans and business sites as part of the program. For this class, we looked at how the human form has been represented in art over time, and how humans fit into and work in their environments. By the end of the class, I had a good understanding of how the portrayal of the human form in art has changed over time and the significance of human factors in engineering.

For our cultural outings, we visited art galleries, churches, museums, palaces, and gardens. These outings included the Uffizi Gallery, Bargello Museum, Vatican City, Galleria dell’ Accademia, Palazzo Pitti, Boboli Gardens, Basilica di Santa Croce, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. One of my favorite visits was to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Florence Cathedral, famous for its dome. The Duomo is an incredible feat of engineering. Designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, the dome is actually constructed of two shells with a staircase in-between. The design meant that the dome could be built without supportive scaffolding and was able to span the cathedral, a challenge that meant the cathedral had been without a roof for over a century. Climbing the dome and getting to actually see the two dome design, as well as the amazing view from the top, was incredible. Another outing I enjoyed was the Galleria dell’ Accademia, which houses Michelangelo’s David.

This trip was the most incredible experience. Florence has been at the top of my bucket list since high school, and getting to see the cathedral and dome, along with so much incredible art, was a dream come true. I have always loved learning about history, architecture, culture, and art, and this trip has given me an even greater appreciation for all of these things. It was so great getting to see all of these buildings, monuments, statues, and artworks that I have read about for so many years. The artisan visits also gave me a better understanding of and appreciation for Italian culture. Florence is an amazing place, and I loved this experience!

Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell' Accademia di Firenze
View of the Duomo from the bell tower
Our group at the Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking Florence