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Great Cathedral Mystery

Master craftsmen explore how Florence’s monumental dome was built nearly 600 years ago. Airing February 12, 2014 at 9 pm on PBS Aired February 12, 2014 on PBS

Program Description

The dome that crowns Florence’s great cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore—the Duomo—is a towering masterpiece of Renaissance ingenuity and an enduring source of mystery. Still the largest masonry dome on earth after more than six centuries, it is taller than the Statue of Liberty and weighs as much as an average cruise ship. Historians and engineers have long debated how its secretive architect, Filippo Brunelleschi, managed to keep the dome perfectly aligned and symmetrical as the sides rose and converged toward the center, 40 stories above the cathedral floor. His laborers toiled without safety nets, applying novel, untried methods. Over 4 million bricks might collapse at any moment—and we still don’t understand how Brunelleschi prevented it. To test the latest theories, a team of U.S. master bricklayers will help build a unique experimental model Duomo using period techniques. Will it stay intact during the final precarious stages of closing over the top of the dome?

Broadcast Credits

WRITTEN, PRODUCED & DIRECTED BY
David Murdock
EDITED BY
Daniel Sheire
DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Erin Harvey
Rene Heijnen
NARRATED BY
Jay O. Sanders
CO-PRODUCER
Katie Bauer
CONSULTING PRODUCER
Gianluca Tenti
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
Anisa Peters
SOUND RECORDISTS
Saverio Damiani
Buckshot Sound
ADDITIONAL CAMERA
David Murdock
Gary Grieg
Dave Yoder
Katie Bauer
OCTOCOPTER
Helivr
JIB CREW
Movie People
FIXERS
Once – Extraordinary Events
Matteo Castelli
MUSIC
Christopher Rife
ANIMATION
Mothlight Creative
PRODUCTION MANAGER
Jessica Cutler
ONLINE EDITOR
Daniel Sheire
COLORIST
David Markun
AUDIO MIX
Bob Bass
ASSOCIATE RESEARCHER
Shraddha Chakradhar
TRANSCRIPTION
Patti Pancoe
TRANSLATORS
Laura Depalma
Helen Farrell
ARCHIVAL MATERIAL
Alinari Archives / Corbis
Arte & Immagini srl / Corbis
Benozzo di Lese di Sandro Gozzoli / Getty Images
Bettmann / Corbis
Paolo Cipriani / Getty Images
Corbis
David Grubin Productions
DEA / G. Dagli Orti / Getty Images
DEA / G. Nimatallah / Getty Images
DEA Picture Library / Getty Images
Historical Picture Archive / Corbis
Image Source / Corbis
iStockphoto / Hulton Archive
The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource
Alfredo Dagli Orti / The Art Archive At Art Resource, NY
The Piermont Morgan Library / Art Resource, NY
Scala / Art Resource, NY
SPECIAL THANKS
Antico Spedale del Bigallo
Archdiocese Of Florence
Archivio di Stato di Firenze
Associazione Culturale Contrada Alfiere
Associazione Filippo di Ser Brunellesco
Associazione il Fiorino
Jim Atkins
Paolo Bianchini
Sonia Cafaggini
Michele Cavallo
Gianluca Chegai
Gianni Cicali
The City Of Florence
Comune di Bagno a Ripoli
Cotto REF
Lucia De Siervo
Rossella Donati
Florence Municiple Police
Giuseppe Giari
Mariagrazia Giuliani
Franco Gizdulich
Grand Hotel Cavour – Firenze
Margaret Haines
The International Masonry Institute
Gregory Jenn
Franco Lucchesi
Piero Marchi
Ambra Nepi
Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, Firenze
Massimo Rubino
San Firenze Suites
Scuola Professionale Edile di Firenze
Andrea Sichi
Dave Sovinsky
Stefano Strazzari
Carmela Valdevies
Paul Robert Walker
Carla Zarrilli
Andrea Zufanelli
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TELEVISION
John Bredar
Jared Lipworth
NOVA SERIES GRAPHICS
yU + co.
NOVA THEME MUSIC
Walter Werzowa
John Luker
Musikvergnuegen, Inc.
ADDITIONAL NOVA THEME MUSIC
Ray Loring
Rob Morsberger
CLOSED CAPTIONING
The Caption Center
POST PRODUCTION ONLINE EDITOR
Spencer Gentry
DIRECTOR OF PR
Jennifer Welsh
PUBLICITY
Eileen Campion
Eddie Ward
SENIOR RESEARCHER
Kate Becker
NOVA ADMINISTRATOR
Kristen Sommerhalter
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Linda Callahan
PARALEGAL
Sarah Erlandson
TALENT RELATIONS
Scott Kardel, Esq.
Janice Flood
LEGAL COUNSEL
Susan Rosen
DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION
Rachel Connolly
DIGITAL MANAGING PRODUCER
Kristine Allington
SENIOR DIGITAL EDITOR
Tim De Chant
DIRECTOR OF NEW MEDIA
Lauren Aguirre
DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATE
Lisa Leombruni
UNIT MANAGER
Ariam McCrary
POST PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
Brittany Flynn
POST PRODUCTION EDITOR
Rebecca Nieto
POST PRODUCTION MANAGER
Nathan Gunner
COMPLIANCE MANAGER
Linzy Emery
BUSINESS MANAGER
Elizabeth Benjes
DEVELOPMENT PRODUCER
David Condon
PROJECT DIRECTOR
Pamela Rosenstein
COORDINATING PRODUCER
Laurie Cahalane
SENIOR SCIENCE EDITOR
Evan Hadingham
SENIOR PRODUCERS
Julia Cort
Chris Schmidt
SENIOR SERIES PRODUCER
Melanie Wallace
MANAGING DIRECTOR
Alan Ritsko
SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Paula S. Apsell

A NOVA Production by National Geographic Television Production in association with Camera One Productions.

© 2014 NGHT, LLC and WGBH Educational Foundation

All rights reserved

This program was produced by WGBH, which is solely responsible for its content.

IMAGE

(Duomo, Florence)
© National Geographic Television

Participants

Jonas Elmore
International Masonry Institute
T. Russell Gentry
Georgia Institute of Technology
Ross King
Author, Brunelleschi’s Dome
Paolo Penko
Goldsmith
Massimo Ricci
University of Florence
Rocky Ruggiero
Kent State University
Timothy Verdon
Cathedral Foundation Museum
Dave Wysocki
International Masonry Institute

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