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Boston Athenaeum

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The Boston Athenæum, a membership library, first opened its doors in 1807, and its rich history as a library and cultural institution has been well documented in the annals of Boston’s cultural life. Today, it remains a vibrant and active institution that serves a wide variety of members and scholars. With more than 600,000 titles in its book collection, the Boston Athenæum functions as a public library for many of its members, with a large and distinguished circulating collection, a newspaper and magazine reading room, quiet spaces and rooms for reading and researching, a children’s library, and wireless internet access throughout its building. The Art Department mounts three exhibitions per year in the institution's Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery, rotating selections in the Recent Acquisitions Gallery, and a number of less formal installations in places and cases around the building. The Special Collections resources are world-renowned, and include maps, manuscripts, rare books, and archival materials. Our Conservation Department works to preserve all our collections. Other activities for members and the public include lectures, panel discussions, poetry readings, musical performances, films, and special events, many of which are followed by receptions. Members are able to take advantage of our second- and fifth-floor terraces during fine weather, and to search electronic databases and our digital collections from their homes and offices.

The Boston Athenæum, a membership library, first opened its doors in 1807, and its rich history as a library and cultural institution has been well documented in the annals of Boston’s cultural life. Today, it remains a vibrant and active institution that serves a wide variety of members and scholars. With more than 600,000 titles in its book collection, the Boston Athenæum functions as a public library for many of its members, with a large and distinguished circulating collection, a newspaper and magazine reading room, quiet spaces and rooms for reading and researching, a children’s library, and wireless internet access throughout its building. The Art Department mounts three exhibitions per year in the institution's Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery, rotating selections in the Recent Acquisitions Gallery, and a number of less formal installations in places and cases around the building. The Special Collections resources are world-renowned, and include maps, manuscripts, rare books, and archival materials. Our Conservation Department works to preserve all our collections. Other activities for members and the public include lectures, panel discussions, poetry readings, musical performances, films, and special events, many of which are followed by receptions. Members are able to take advantage of our second- and fifth-floor terraces during fine weather, and to search electronic databases and our digital collections from their homes and offices.
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Location:

Boston, MA

Description:

The Boston Athenæum, a membership library, first opened its doors in 1807, and its rich history as a library and cultural institution has been well documented in the annals of Boston’s cultural life. Today, it remains a vibrant and active institution that serves a wide variety of members and scholars. With more than 600,000 titles in its book collection, the Boston Athenæum functions as a public library for many of its members, with a large and distinguished circulating collection, a newspaper and magazine reading room, quiet spaces and rooms for reading and researching, a children’s library, and wireless internet access throughout its building. The Art Department mounts three exhibitions per year in the institution's Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery, rotating selections in the Recent Acquisitions Gallery, and a number of less formal installations in places and cases around the building. The Special Collections resources are world-renowned, and include maps, manuscripts, rare books, and archival materials. Our Conservation Department works to preserve all our collections. Other activities for members and the public include lectures, panel discussions, poetry readings, musical performances, films, and special events, many of which are followed by receptions. Members are able to take advantage of our second- and fifth-floor terraces during fine weather, and to search electronic databases and our digital collections from their homes and offices.

Language:

English


Episodes

Erin Corrales-Diaz, “A Great National Painting: James Walker’s The Battle of Gettysburg"

7/16/2018
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May 23, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. Six years in the making, James Walker’s twenty-foot long The Battle of Gettysburg debuted in Boston on March 14, 1870. No less than five major Boston newspapers lauded the work’s sweep and substance, praising its “remarkable minuteness and comprehensiveness and . . . fidelity.” Indeed, several of the generals depicted in the work (Longstreet, Meade, Hancock, Webb, Hall, and others) vouched for its accuracy—and its pathos. After its first appearance, The...

Duration:00:53:23

Aaron Sinift, “The Five Year Plan”

7/9/2018
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June 28, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. As a response to his desire to make a work of art, unique in character and materiality, Aaron Sinift created the Five-Year Plan project. The inspiration came from the artworks printed onto the side of sling bags called “jholas” that are commonly made by Gandhi ashram collectives throughout India. The cloth they are made from, called khadi, is made from hand-spun cotton thread woven on hand-looms, a cloth with deep resonance in India. Sinift...

Duration:00:48:23

Dr. Adam Koppel, Dr. David Meeker, Dr. Craig C. Mello, and Carl Zimmer : Biotechnology Panel

6/25/2018
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May 21, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. Join us for a panel discussion that will explore exciting developments in the life sciences. The latest trends in gene therapy, gene editing, and RNA interference--to name a few subjects--will be examined. The panelists will also trace the journey of consumer and clinical products from the spark of an idea to product-testing in the lab. Other questions for discussion include: What are current trends in the life sciences and how can they be extended into...

Duration:01:31:34

Poets' Theatre, “The Poet Behind the Mask (or Dramatis Personae)”

6/18/2018
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May 7, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. Poets are supposed to pour their souls into their work. In so doing, however, they often adopt masks, speaking through others. This cast of characters can be extremely varied: genders are switched, professions are tried on, contrary ideas rehearsed, Phillis Wheatley hangs out with Robinson Crusoe, Sacagawea headlines with Crazy Jane. This set of readings by actors from The Poets' Theatre, which ranges from Erica Funkhouser to Alfred Lord Tennyson to...

Duration:01:08:20

Marilyn Yalom, “The Amorous Heart: An Unconventional History of Love”

6/18/2018
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May 22, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. The symmetrical, exuberant heart is everywhere: it gives shape to candy, pendants, the frothy milk on top of a cappuccino, and much else. How can we explain the ubiquity of what might be the most recognizable symbol in the world? In The Amorous Heart, Marilyn Yalom tracks the heart metaphor and heart iconography across two thousand years, through Christian theology, pagan love poetry, medieval painting, Shakespearean drama, Enlightenment science, and...

Duration:00:46:50

Lucas Cowan, “GLOW”

6/18/2018
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May 8, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. Lucas Cowan, Public Art Curator for The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, will present on The Greenway's 2018 Public Art Curatorial theme titled GLOW, a public exhibition of commissioned light-based artworks, historically significant Massachusetts light based roadside architecture, and interactive experiences that showcases the rapidly evolving concept of light and art, helping to shape our sense of place, and our collective and individual identities....

Duration:00:41:05

Joseph L. Koerner, “Hieronymus Bosch, Enemy Painter”

5/18/2018
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May 17, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. Joseph Leo Koerner pays tribute to the enigmatic artistry of Hieronymus Bosch. Active in the Netherlands around 1500, at the eve of the Protestant Reformation, Bosch was a master-portraitist of devils, nightmares, cosmic catastrophes, and hellish punishments. In cultivating evil as his strange artistic specialty, Bosch also cast himself as potentially demonic, a painter of enemies who might also be an enemy painter. A person of his time, Bosch...

Duration:00:53:23

Sarah E. Igo, “The Known Citizen”

5/18/2018
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May 10, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. Every day, Americans make decisions about their privacy: what to share and when, how much to expose and to whom. Securing the boundary between one’s private affairs and public identity has become a central task of citizenship. How did privacy come to loom so large in American life? Sarah Igo tracks this elusive social value across the twentieth century, as individuals questioned how they would, and should, be known by their own society. Popular...

Duration:00:51:58

Noah Wilson-Rich, “Our Future with Bees”

4/30/2018
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November 29, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. If you eat food, you need bees. The world’s bees can create economic and ecological sustainability, if only we let them. As pollinators, bees bring us over 100 fruit and vegetable crops and provide feed for our livestock industry. Yet bees are dying at an alarming rate. Data from urban environments indicate that bees are doing better in cities. Why is this? Learn how to get involved in urban beekeeping, and how to save these vitally important...

Duration:00:55:37

Robert Kuttner, “Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?”

4/27/2018
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April 26, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. Before and after World War II, a serendipitous confluence of events created a healthy balance between the market and the polity—between the engine of capitalism and the egalitarian ideals of democracy. Under Roosevelt’s New Deal, unions and collective bargaining were legalized. Glass-Steagall reined in speculative finance. At Bretton Woods, a global financial system was devised explicitly to allow nations to manage capitalism. Yet this golden era...

Duration:00:32:03

Joseph Rosenbloom, “Redemption: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Last 31 Hours”

4/20/2018
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April 17, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. Redemption is an intimate look at the last thirty-one hours and twenty-eight minutes of King's life. King was exhausted from a brutal speaking schedule. He was being denounced in the press and by political leaders as an agent of violence. He was facing dissent even within the civil rights movement and among his own staff at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In Memphis, a federal court injunction was barring him from marching. As threats...

Duration:00:46:48

Nathaniel Silver, “Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth”

4/5/2018
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March 29, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. In 1899, Isabella Stewart Gardner acquired the first Fra Angelico painting in America. The exhibition Heaven on Earth at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum reunites for the first time the founder's magnificent Assumption and Dormition of the Virgin with its three companions from the Museo di San Marco, Florence. Conceived as a set of jewel-like reliquaries between 1424 and 1434 for one of the most important churches in Florence, they tell the story...

Duration:00:55:15

Sarah McBride, “Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality”

3/22/2018
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March 8, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. In April 2012, when transgender issues had yet to break onto the national scene, Sarah McBride made headlines—and history—when she came out publicly as a transgender woman while serving as American University’s student body president. With a viral Facebook post that announced her identity, she suddenly found herself on the forefront of a movement, fighting for positive change. Since that day in April, Sarah has continued to make history, eventually...

Duration:00:31:19

Joel Richard Paul, “Without Precedent: John Marshall and His Times”

3/12/2018
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March 5, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. No member of America's Founding Generation had a greater impact on the Constitution and the Supreme Court than John Marshall, and no one did more to preserve the delicate unity of the fledgling United States. From the nation's founding in 1776 and for the next forty years, Marshall was at the center of every political battle. As Chief Justice of the United States - the longest-serving in history - he established the independence of the judiciary and...

Duration:00:47:42

Giles Milton,Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare:The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler's Defeat

3/2/2018
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February 28, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. In the spring of 1939, a top-secret organization was founded in London: its purpose was to plot the destruction of Hitler’s war machine, through spectacular acts of sabotage. The guerrilla campaign that followed was as extraordinary as the six men who directed it. One of them, William Fairbairn, was a portly pensioner with an unusual passion: he was the world’s leading expert in silent killing, hired to train the guerrillas being parachuted behind...

Duration:00:45:40

Robert Shiller, “The Transformation of the American Dream”

3/1/2018
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February 15, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. In his 1931 book The Epic of America James Truslow Adams first popularized the concept of the “American Dream" as "being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in older civilizations." But the meaning of the term changes through time as culture changes, and as opportunists try to redefine to their own advantage. It is this dream which he thought "lured tens of millions of all...

Duration:00:45:22

Dr. John A. Buchtel, “A Picture of a Book is Not a Book”

2/15/2018
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February 7, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. For two centuries the members and proprietors of the Boston Athenæum have pooled their resources, interests, and expertise to create an extraordinary shared collection of rare books. From a hand-colored copy of the monumental 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle to the imaginative sculptural structures of contemporary book artist Julie Chen, the books in the Athenæum's collection are available to each and every member, as well as to a broader community of...

Duration:00:50:35

Georgia Barnhill, “What Makes Fitz Henry Lane's Lithographs So Special?”

2/15/2018
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February 6, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. In this richly illustrated talk, Georgia Barnhill sheds fresh light on the beloved American luminist painter and printmaker Fitz Henry Lane, the subject of her current exhibition, Drawn from Nature & On Stone: The Lithographs of Fitz Henry Lane at the Cape Ann Museum. Barnhill, curator emerita of graphic arts at the American Antiquarian Society, considers Lane’s work within the context of his contemporaries, Benjamin Chimney, Robert Cooke, Benjamin...

Duration:00:52:38

Nancy Koehn, “Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times”

2/2/2018
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January 29, 2018 at the Boston Athenæum. An enthralling historical narrative filled with critical leadership insights that will be of interest to a wide range of readers—including those in government, business, education, and the arts—Forged in Crisis, by celebrated Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn, spotlights five masters of crisis: polar explorer Ernest Shackleton; President Abraham Lincoln; legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass; Nazi-resisting clergyman Dietrich...

Duration:00:47:10

Poets' Theatre, “The New Colossus"

12/22/2017
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December 13, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” These words have become as well known and as deeply embedded in American patriotic lore as those of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Gettysburg Address, or the Declaration of Independence. But few remember that these lines are excerpted from an 1883 sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus. Though the lines were meant to interpret the Statue of Liberty, they transformed the...

Duration:00:53:04