195 episodes

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.

Boston Athenæum Boston Athenæum

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.0, 9 Ratings

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.

    Grace Talusan and Elif Armbruster, “The Body Papers: A Memoir”

    Grace Talusan and Elif Armbruster, “The Body Papers: A Memoir”

    March 3, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum.

    Born in the Philippines, young Grace Talusan moves with her family to a New England suburb in the 1970s. At school, she confronts racism as one of the few kids with a brown face. At home, the confusion is worse: her grandfather’s nightly visits to her room leave her hurt and terrified, and she learns to build a protective wall of silence that maps onto the larger silence practiced by her Catholic Filipino family. Talusan learns as a teenager that her family’s legal status in the country has always hung by a thread—for a time, they were “illegal.” Family, she’s told, must be put first.

    The abuse and trauma Talusan suffers as a child affects all her relationships, her mental health, and her relationship with her own body. Later, she learns that her family history is threaded with violence and abuse. And she discovers another devastating family thread: cancer. In her thirties, Talusan must decide whether to undergo preventive surgeries to remove her breasts and ovaries. Despite all this, she finds love, and success as a teacher. On a fellowship, Talusan and her husband return to the Philippines, where she revisits her family’s ancestral home and tries to reclaim a lost piece of herself.

    Not every family legacy is destructive. From her parents, Talusan has learned to tell stories in order to continue. The generosity of spirit and literary acuity of this debut memoir are a testament to her determination and resilience. In excavating such abuse and trauma, and supplementing her story with government documents, medical records, and family photos, Talusan gives voice to unspeakable experience, and shines a light of hope into the darkness.

    • 41 min
    Heidi Pribell and Theo Tyson, “Curator’s Choice: Art + Design”

    Heidi Pribell and Theo Tyson, “Curator’s Choice: Art + Design”

    March 4, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum.

    Art + Design is part of a trio of events for ‘Curator’s Choice’ hosted by the Boston Athenæum’s Polly Thayer Starr Fellow in American Art & Culture Theo Tyson and Assistant Curator Ginny Badget.

    An evening to celebrate the historical and contemporary intersections of fashion, art, and design, Tyson will begin by unpacking the subtle, yet salient feminism and sartorial commentary embedded in one of Polly Thayer Starr’s most popular and painterly portraits, Shopping for Furs, and share fashion plates from our special collections. She will then be joined by longtime Boston Athenæum member and interior designer, Heidi Pribell for a candid conversation on how fashion and art influence her practice.

    • 30 min
    EmpowerHER: Black Women in the Arts

    EmpowerHER: Black Women in the Arts

    February 19, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum.

    In partnership with the Network for Art Administrators of Color Boston (NAAC).

    Join us for an artful conversation with three preeminent leaders catalyzing change in Boston to make its cultural landscape more inclusive and supportive of Black women artists. Representing backgrounds ranging from music and museums, to the public art sector and philanthropy, our experts and advocates will explore their views on the importance and necessity of the work they’re doing to empower Black women artists. The Athenæum is excited and fortunate to welcome Lyndsay Allyn Cox, Director of Theater Arts at the Boston Center for the Arts, Catherine T. Morris, Founder and Executive Director of Boston Art & Music Soul (BAMS) Fest and Manager of Public Programs at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Courtney D. Sharpe, Director of Cultural Planning for the City of Boston, as our featured guests. The event will be interspersed with performances by Boston-based Black women artists, including movement and dance artist Victoria Awkward, musician Allegra Fletcher, poet and organizer Amanda Shea, and Miss Massachusetts USA 2020 Sabrina Victor.

    This lively conversation moderated by Polly Thayer Starr Fellow in American Art & Culture Theo Tyson will feature performances by local Boston artists, co-selected by our partner and co-producer, the Network for Art Administrators of Color (NAAC). The NAAC Boston is an ArtsBoston program that was established to enhance the visibility of professionals of color in Greater Boston’s arts and culture sector, as well as widen the leadership pipeline and highlight opportunities for professional and personal growth in the field.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Nancy Seasholes, “The Atlas of Boston History”

    Nancy Seasholes, “The Atlas of Boston History”

    February 26, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum.

    Few American cities possess a history as long, rich, and fascinating as Boston’s. A site of momentous national political events from the Revolutionary War through the civil rights movement, Boston has also been an influential literary and cultural capital. From ancient glaciers to landmaking schemes and modern infrastructure projects, the city’s terrain has been transformed almost constantly over the centuries. The Atlas of Boston History traces the city’s history and geography from the last ice age to the present with beautifully rendered maps.

    Edited by historian Nancy S. Seasholes, this landmark volume captures all aspects of Boston’s past in a series of fifty-seven stunning full-color spreads. Each section features newly created thematic maps that focus on moments and topics in that history. These maps are accompanied by hundreds of historical and contemporary illustrations and explanatory text from historians and other expert contributors. They illuminate a wide range of topics including Boston’s physical and economic development, changing demography, and social and cultural life. In lavishly produced detail, The Atlas of Boston History offers a vivid, refreshing perspective on the development of this iconic American city.

    • 43 min
    Russell Maret, “The Making of Character Traits”

    Russell Maret, “The Making of Character Traits”

    February 11, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum.

    In this talk Russell Maret will discuss the three year process of making his most recent artist’s book, Character Traits. The book continues Maret’s investigation into alphabetical form, which he has undertaken over the last twenty years in a series of printed books and manuscripts, many of which are in the Athenæum’s collection. This newest project is composed of two parts: a volume of essays about alphabetical character traits, specifically how different lettering technologies affect alphabetical form; and a portfolio of twenty-five prints that explore these ideas in a series of texts chosen for their insights into human character traits, each of which is set in unique lettering designed by Maret. The making of Character Traits took on a whole new level of production because during the preliminary work on the project Maret realized it would be conceptually inconsistent to print the plates using the printing method in which he is trained—letterpress. Instead, he purchased an etching press and spent a year learning the necessary skills to print the plates intaglio. The ensuing process of teaching himself a new printing medium, while also wrestling with the creative and conceptual aspects of the project, resulted in many humorous episodes. The talk will cover the ups and downs of this process, and discuss the ideas that lead Maret to make the book in the first place.

    • 33 min
    Richard Bell, “Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home”

    Richard Bell, “Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home”

    February 6, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum.

    A gripping and true story about five boys who were kidnapped in the North and smuggled into slavery in the Deep South—and their daring attempt to escape and bring their captors to justice. Philadelphia, 1825: five young, free black boys fall into the clutches of the most fearsome gang of kidnappers and slavers in the United States. Lured onto a small ship with the promise of food and pay, they are instead met with blindfolds, ropes, and knives. Over four long months, their kidnappers drive them overland into the Cotton Kingdom to be sold as slaves. Determined to resist, the boys form a tight brotherhood as they struggle to free themselves and find their way home.

    Their ordeal—an odyssey that takes them from the Philadelphia waterfront to the marshes of Mississippi and then onward still—shines a glaring spotlight on the Reverse Underground Railroad, a black market network of human traffickers and slave traders who stole away thousands of legally free African Americans from their families in order to fuel slavery’s rapid expansion in the decades before the Civil War. Impeccably researched and breathlessly paced, STOLEN tells the story of five boys whose courage forever changed the fight against slavery in America.

    • 36 min

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