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Springfield Museums Announce Fall Lecture Series

Springfield Museums Announce Fall Lecture Series

The Springfield Museums announces the Fall 2018 schedule for the popular lunch-time lecture series, Museums à la Carte. The lectures take place Thursdays at 12:15 p.m. in the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts. Admission is $4 ($2 for members of the Springfield Museums); visitors are invited to bring a bag lunch (cookies and coffee are provided). For more information about our lecture series, please call 413-263-6800, ext. 488.

The Springfield Museums will also host special lectures as part of the Thomas Hart Benton’s World special initiative. Please see schedule below.

September 2018

Sept 6: All My Worldly Goods: English Royal Weddings. Curt DiCamillo, historian, curator of special collections, New England Historic Genealogical Society
English royal weddings seem to fascinate even the most jaded Americans. These spectacles provide a chance to see a bit of a fairy tale come to life, with pomp and ceremony, historical jewels, magnificent wedding gifts, and cathedrals and great palaces. Royal weddings have evolved from medieval ceremonies that cemented dynastic national alliances to private ceremonies witnessed by close family members and courtiers to spectacles watched by millions on television. Mr. DiCamillo will look at English royal weddings, the events and places associated with them, and the wedding couples during the last eight centuries. Going back as early as the wedding of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152 and up to rebirth of the pageantry of the English royal wedding with the 2011 ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton, this lecture will feature a slice of English history with lots of glamour and great stories.

Sept 13*: Beyond the Bicep: The Real Story of Rosie the Riveter. Amanda Goodheart Parks, PhD, UMass Amherst.
Her image has adorned everything from lunchboxes to lampshades, but what is the real story of Rosie the Riveter? Together we’ll trace her journey from propaganda poster to feminist icon while uncovering the history of the real life Rosies who not only inspired that infamous bicep, but whose work in wartime industries helped secure an Allied victory during World War II.

 Sept 20: Thomas Hart Benton’s New England Editor: Collecting Contemporary Art at the MFA, Boston during the 1940s. Elliot Bostwick Davis, PhD, John Moors Cabot Chair, Art of the Americas, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The lecture discusses Benton’s portrait in the context of his own time and that of the MFA’s provisional collection for contemporary art, a designation in use by the institution from 1941 to 1957 for the purposes of collecting paintings and works on paper by contemporary American and European artists. The Provisional Collection forms the basis of the second in a series of three pilot exhibition projects supported in partnership with the Luce Foundation of American Art to create innovative and engaging installations from underutilized areas of the permanent collection.

Sept 27*: Explaining Ourselves: The Revolutionary Correspondence of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Barry Deitz, storyteller
We will look at the extraordinary letters written by Adams and Jefferson to each other during tumultuous years of the Revolution and after.  After both men had retired from public office their correspondence continued in earnest as the two very different men, one a Northerner, one a Southerner, and representatives of completely opposite ideas of government, tried to explain themselves at last.

October 2018

Oct 4: The Total Solar Eclipse ExperienceRichard Sanderson, Retired Curator of Physical Science, Springfield Science Museum
What is it about total solar eclipses that inspire people to journey to the far corners of the world to stand within the moon’s shadow for a few fleeting moments?  This presentation will focus on the Great American Eclipse of 2017, including a personal account of this historic event by Richard Sanderson, who traveled to the path of totality in Tennessee.  The program also will feature a look at future total solar eclipses that will be visible in the United States and around the world.                               

Oct 11*: Alternative Facts about the Past: Fraud, Folly and Forgery in Archaeology Joseph A.P. Wilson PhD, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Fairfield University
Do you trust archaeologists to tell you the truth about the past? The World Economic Forum recently announced that public trust in traditional journalism is at an all-time low. People increasingly rely on other sources for information, particularly new electronic media and partisan cable channels. The same trend is observed in ancient history and archaeology news, and scientific journalism in general. With many sensationalist media sources claiming to “rewrite history” with each new discovery, what tools does the public have to distinguish between the impossible, the improbable, and the truly groundbreaking? Dr. Joseph Wilson will illustrate several key cases and help to illuminate the problem.

Oct 18: Two Gems: The Parthenon & Acropolis. Amy S. Dane, freelance lecturer, global traveler and photographer
Crowning the Athenian Acropolis, the Parthenon is an icon symbolizing the dawn of democracy in Western Civilization.  Why did the 5th century BCE Athenians build such an expensive and exceptional temple?  What communal significance did it have for them?  After exploring the architectural elements and sculptural decoration, we will time travel over 2500 years to another engineering feat, the Acropolis Museum, which opened its doors in 2009.  A virtual tour of the collection will showcase the ancient artifacts in their 21st century home. 

Oct 25: Prairie Pastoral: Regionalism and the 1930s in American Art. Dr. Judith Barter, Field McCormick Chair and Curator of American Art Emerita, The Art Institute of Chicago
This lecture explores the reasons and political pressures behind the formation of American Regionalism—the work of its artists (Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, John Stuart Curry and others) and the comments of its critics.

November 2018

Nov 1    “She Kept Her Head:” The Life and Work of Artist Elisabeth Vigée-Le BrunDr. Simon P. Sibelman, Professor Emeritus of French and Holocaust Studies, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, former Executive Director of the Virginia Holocaust Museum, and Professor Emeritus of French and Holocaust Studies, Appalachian State University
Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun proved one of the most popular portrait painters in the last decades before the French Revolution. Capturing the elegance, style, and élan of the French aristocracy, Vigée-Le Brun eventually drew the attention of Queen Marie-Antoinette whom Vigee-Le Brun would paint more than six times. When the Ancien Régime collapsed in the summer of 1789 and rapidly moved toward the tragic excesses of the Terror, Vigée-Le Brun went into exile eventually arriving in Russia where she painted the great and good at the Imperial Court. Eventually allowed to return to France, she would witness the whirl of events before her death in Paris in 1842 aged 86.

Nov 8: Exhibition on Screen: Degas: Passion for Perfection (documentary film presentation)
EXHIBITION ON SCREEN journeys from the streets of Paris to the heart of a superb exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, whose extensive collection of Degas’ works is the most representative in Britain. With exclusive access to view rare and diverse works, this film tells a fascinating story of Degas’ pursuit for perfection through both experimentation with new techniques and lessons learnt from studying the past masters. Running time: 85 minutes

Nov 15: Working Nine to Five: Interpretations of Working Women in the 1930s -1940s by Isabel Bishop. Julia Courtney, Independent Curator (guest curator for Bishop exhibition), curator emeritus for the Springfield Museums, and adjunct professor in Graduate Museum Studies Program at Tufts University
American Artist Isabel Bishop (1902-1988), part of New York City’s Fourteenth Street School of artists, specialized in portraying men and women who worked in the city of New York. This included the “new woman” of the 20th century: the workingwoman, unique but ordinary and unencumbered by gender stereotypes. Whether posing nude, eating ice cream, or engaging in the vibrant city life, Bishop’s interpretations of the new women informed other artist’s renditions and altered the perception of women of the 20th century. Hear about the artist’s life, process and contribution to the view of women from guest curator and curator emeritus for the Springfield Museums, Julia Courtney.

Nov 22: NO LECTURE – Thanksgiving

Nov 29: I Now Pronounce You Lucy Stone (living history presentation). Judith Kalaora, Founder & Artistic Director, History At Play™
I Now Pronounce You Lucy Stone features the life of the Massachusetts based human rights activist and suffragist Lucy Stone. Challenging discrimination is not easy, but Lucy Stone is never one to take the easy road. The first woman from Massachusetts to earn a college degree, Lucy was a fierce abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Even Susan B. Anthony credited Lucy Stone for her involvement in the tumultuous women’s rights movement. The fight for suffrage is ferocious, so come along for the ride.

December 2018

Dec 6: POP! Icons of American Culture from the Smithsonian. Smithsonian speaker TBA
Dec 13*: POP! Icons of American Culture from the Smithsonian. Smithsonian speaker TBA
Dec 20: Joy to the World: Holiday Music for Classical Guitar & Mandolin. Judy Handler & Mark Levesque

Enchanting instrumental renditions of traditional and contemporary holiday music. A variety of lively tunes and lyrical melodies with an international flavor. Audiences will enjoy the charming sound of the classical guitar & mandolin as Judy & Mark play their own arrangements of beautiful holiday music from many cultures. Judy & Mark offer interesting commentary about the origins of holiday music from the U.S., England, Ireland, Wales, Germany, Russia, Puerto Rico, and songs of Hanukah. The audience will have a chance to join in at the end of the program on some rhythm instruments.

* Continuing Conversations, docent-led gallery tour, follows lecture.

Thomas Hart Benton’s World Special Events

Friday, October 12, 12:15 pm. BENTON, POLLOCK, AND MARTHA’S VINEYARD. Art history professor Henry Adams traces Thomas Hart Benton’s evolution from an obscure struggling artist to the most famous American painter of the 1930s. Of particular focus will be the summers Benton spent with his most famous student, Jackson Pollock. Free with museum admission.

Sunday, November 4, noon–4:30 pm. PAINTING, POLITICS, AND PERFORMANCE: THOMAS HART BENTON’S AMERICA A day-long exploration of Benton, featuring a panel discussion of themes surrounding his work New England Editor, now on view at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts; screenings of the PBS American Stories documentary on Benton; a musical presentation of Saturday Night at Tom Benton’s: Mid Century Folk Song as Art; docent gallery talks; and a performance by the Boston Typewriter Orchestra. Free with museum admission. Part of the series Thomas Hart Benton’s World. Learn more at Thomas Hart Benton’s World is generously supported by Art Bridges.


At the Noon Hour, circa 1936, Tempera and pencil on composition board by Isabel Bishop (American, 1902-1988). James Philip Gray Collection, 39.01. Photography by