Museum Lecture Series Explores How Currier & Ives Helped Define America

The Museum of Fine Arts has scheduled Currier & Ives: Defining America, a four-part Sunday afternoon lecture series which will explore the social and artistic impact of the 19th-century printmakers Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives.

The first program in the series will be held on January 8 at 2 p.m., when John Zak, vice president of the American Historical Print Collectors Society, will present The World of Currier & Ives: Nineteenth-Century America. A print collector for more than 27 years, Zak will give a brief history of the firm of Currier & Ives, discuss the artists and entrepreneurs who contributed to the great success of the company, describe the subjects they depicted, and explain their role in establishing a national identity. The audience will also have the opportunity to participate in a raffle to win a hand-colored Currier & Ives print donated by Zak from his own collection. The lectures are presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Currier & Ives: An American Panorama, on view at the Museum of Fine Arts through June 4, 2006. The lecture series is sponsored by The Republican. Future programs in the series are: – February 5 – The Pictorial Context for Currier & Ives — Prints for the Elite and the Middle Class by Georgia Barnhill, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts, American Antiquarian Society in Worcester. – March 19 – Emancipation Day: Postbellum Visions of African Americans in Currier & Ives' Darktown Prints by James Smethurst, associate professor, W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. – April 2 – Currier & Ives: Constructing What It Meant to Be American, 1870 to 1941 by Barry O'Connell, professor of English, Amherst College. The talks are free with Museum admission.