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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

Donald Louria, “Systems Thinking, Extraordinary Longevity, and Pot”

10/16/2017
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October 11, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. In his book reThink, preventive medicine and public health expert Donald Louria argues that “societally connected systems thinking” can allow us to solve problems where conventional methods have failed. By analyzing an entire issue through systems diagrams rather than its component parts, problem solvers are able to examine causes and consequences, understand patterns and themes, and identify leverage points. Societally connected systems thinking...

Duration: 00:55:57


Henry William Brands, “The General vs. the President”

10/13/2017
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October 10, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Harry S. Truman was one of the most unpopular presidents in American history. Heir to a struggling economy, a ruined Europe, and ever-increasing tension with the Soviet Union, on no issue was the path ahead clear and easy. General Douglas MacArthur, by contrast, was incredibly popular, as untouchable as any officer has ever been in America. The lessons he drew from World War II were absolute: appeasement leads to disaster and a showdown with the...

Duration: 00:39:21


“Recording Lives at Lightning Speed”

10/11/2017
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October 5, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. In conjunction with the Boston University Center for the Humanities Fall Forum, Recording Lives: Libraries and Archives in the Digital Age, we are pleased to host a conversation on local cultural organizations’ use of digital technologies to expand access to their collections. In this program, representatives from six cultural organizations charged with the material past will give a “lightning round” of presentations on how they are embracing the...

Duration: 00:41:25


Neil Swidey, “The Boston Roots of the Trump Anti-Immigrant Playbook”

9/28/2017
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September 26, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. President Trump’s immigration rhetoric has elicited outrage in Massachusetts, and especially in the vicinity of Harvard Yard (where Trump won just 4% of the vote). So, in Greater Boston, it may turn more than a few faces crimson to learn that—like basketball, the microwave oven, and public education—the intellectual playbook for anti-immigration policy was drafted right here in Massachusetts, by a small group of Harvard-educated Brahmin...

Duration: 00:50:12


William Dalrymple, “Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Famous Diamond”

9/25/2017
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September 20, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. On March 29, 1849, the ten-year-old Maharajah of the Punjab handed over to the British East India Company in a formal Act of Submission to Queen Victoria not only swathes of the richest land in India, but also arguably the single most valuable object in the subcontinent: the celebrated Koh-i-Noor diamond. Using original eyewitness accounts and chronicles never before translated into English to craft the first comprehensive and authoritative...

Duration: 00:50:50


William Kuhn, “Prince Harry Boy to Man”

9/19/2017
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September 14, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Author and historian William Kuhn discusses his recently published satirical war novel, a lighthearted work of fiction that recounts Prince Harry’s wartime experiences in Afghanistan. A former historian in the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle, Kuhn will share personal anecdotes, including his impressions of a Christmas party at Buckingham Palace.

Duration: 00:44:08


Adam Begley, “The Great Nadar: The Man Behind the Camera”

9/8/2017
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September 6, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. The first great portrait photographer, a pioneering balloonist, the first person to take an aerial photograph, and the prime mover behind the first airmail service, Nadar was one of the original celebrity artist-entrepreneurs. A kind of 19th-century Andy Warhol, he knew everyone worth knowing and photographed them all, conferring on posterity psychologically compelling portraits of Manet, Sarah Bernhardt, Delacroix, Daumier and countless others—a...

Duration: 00:47:34


Geoff Wisner, “Thoreau’s Wildflowers and Animals”

8/3/2017
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August 2, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Many of the most vivid writings in Henry David Thoreau’s journals were inspired by the plants and animals that inhabit the sprawling fields, forests, and wetlands of Concord and nearby communities. An inveterate year-round rambler and keen and thoughtful observer, Thoreau wrote frequently about these creatures, faithfully recording each sighting or encounter with the accuracy of a scientist and the deep spirituality of a transcendentalist and mystic....

Duration: 00:50:02


Christopher Hamilton, “Nietzsche: Philosopher of Lightness and Dynamite”

6/7/2017
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June 6, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Few, if any, other contemporary philosophers have achieved a level of influence to rival that of Nietzsche. Largely ignored during his lifetime, he was, as he predicted, born posthumously. In this lecture, Christopher Hamilton will trace the outlines of Nietzsche’s thought, exploring his most famous theories—eternal recurrence, the Übermensch, slave revolt in morality, and the death of God—as well as some lesser-known elements of his work, revealing a...

Duration: 00:49:33


Sally Bedell Smith, “Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life”

4/27/2017
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April 26, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum, presented in conjunction with the Royal Oak Foundation. Drawing on her exclusive access to the Royal Family’s inner circle, New York Times bestselling author Sally Bedell Smith has published the first major biography of Prince Charles in more than two decades. In this illustrated lecture, Smith lays bare the contradictions of a man who is more complicated, tragic, and compelling than we knew, until now. Smith captures the essence of a man who has been...

Duration: 00:56:12


Stephen Kinzer, “The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire”

3/24/2017
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March 23, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Acclaimed journalist Stephen Kinzer will discuss the domestic clamor over America’s imperial ventures at the dawn of the 20th century. After a century of continental expansion, the United States came upon an opportunity to expand overseas by capturing Spanish colonial possessions and other territories within its reach. The nation plunged into polemic debate, with political and intellectual giants contesting “the imperial idea.” Expansionists declared...

Duration: 00:41:30


Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston, “A Child of Books”

2/27/2017
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February 25, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers and fine artist Sam Winston will present on their collaboratively created picturebook, A Child of Books. An artistic love letter to reading and the imagination, A Child of Books combines Jeffers’s expressive images and Winston’s immersive typographical landscapes, as a girl and boy adventure through the rich terrain of stories.

Duration: 00:42:11


Laird Christensen, "How the Arts Prepare Us for Life in the Time of Climate Change"

2/16/2017
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February 15, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. The warnings come one after another, from biologists, meteorologists, pathologists, and hydrologists, all offering some variation on the same story: the world we inhabit is changing rapidly—and not always for the better. Centuries of fossil fuel consumption has caused atmospheric levels of carbon to spike beyond anything our species has ever experienced. Each month brings record temperatures as clean water grows scarce. 200 million environmental...

Duration: 01:02:40


Michael D. Fay and Tara Leigh Tappert, “Beyond Stereotype: War, Warriors, and the Creative Arts”

1/31/2017
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January 30, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Join us to consider the historic and contemporary intersection of art, war, and culture. Guests Michael D. Fay, former United States Marine Corps combat artist, and Tara Leigh Tappert, cultural historian, will discuss the role and influence of wartime experiences on culture and the arts since WWI, addressing both art’s place on the battlefield and its rehabilitative qualities for veterans. They will also discuss contemporary issues surrounding art...

Duration: 00:45:36


Dan Souza and Molly Birnbaum - America's Test Kitchen, “Cook’s Science”

1/27/2017
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January 26, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. For the past 25 years (and long before it became a trend), America’s Test Kitchen has used the art of science to perfect cooking. America’s Test Kitchen’s carefully crafted process guarantees success through the use of biology, chemistry, and physics to ask big questions about how and why ingredients and cooking techniques work. Cook’s Science: How to Unlock Flavor in 50 of Our Favorite Ingredients distills thousands of kitchen tests and decades of...

Duration: 00:29:09


R. Marc Kantrowitz, "Old Whiskey and Young Women: American True Crime Tales..."

1/26/2017
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January 25, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Join Marc Kantrowitz to explore some of the most notorious legal cases in American history! Hear about America’s most famous comedian being framed for murder; the country’s first capital case involving an older woman and her (much) younger lover; the fatal shooting of a renowned architect amidst a crowded party by Mad Harry Thaw; and the real-life inspiration for Norman Bates, whose gruesome crimes outmatch that of any fictional character. These...

Duration: 00:44:02


Robert Peck, “The Remarkable Nature of Edward Lear”

1/19/2017
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January 19, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Edward Lear (1812-1888) is known and cherished for “The Owl and the Pussycat” and other works of literary nonsense. He was also an accomplished painter of birds, mammals, reptiles, and landscapes. Lear depicted parrots, macaws, toucans, owls, and other birds with scientific accuracy and a noteworthy sense of character, and reproduced his illustrations using the newly invented technique of lithography. An adventurous global traveler, Lear painted...

Duration: 00:46:55


Louise Miller, “A City Baker’s Guide to Country Living”

1/17/2017
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January 11, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. Join pastry chef and author Louise Miller for a discussion about her writing process and research, as well as a reading from her debut novel, A City Baker’s Guide to Country Living. When Olivia Rawlings—pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club—sets not just her flambéed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of—the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, and her best friend...

Duration: 00:32:20


Dr. Melinda A. Zeder and Dr. Panagiotis Karkanas, “A Look Inside the Malcolm H. Wiener Laboratory”

1/13/2017
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January 9, 2017 at the Boston Athenæum. The Malcolm H. Wiener Laboratory for Archaeological Science of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) is an active research department dedicated to archaeological science in Greece. The building replaces the previous lab Wiener founded in 1992, and adds cutting-edge equipment: a scanning electron microscope, a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, and a Fourier transform infrared spectrometer. The lab provides both American...

Duration: 00:41:37


Tamara Plakins Thornton, “Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers”

12/19/2016
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December 15, 2016 at the Boston Athenæum. Tamara Plakins Thornton will present on the life and work of Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838), a man Thomas Jefferson once called a “meteor in the hemisphere.” A mathematician, astronomer, navigator, seafarer, business executive, and transformational Athenæum Trustee, Bowditch’s Enlightenment-inspired perspectives shaped nineteenth century capitalism while broadly transforming daily American life. Enthralled with the precision and certainty of...

Duration: 00:37:24

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