Topics of the five new shows span a “lost collection” from Harvard’s 18th-century past, Persian paintings, Chinese ceramics, works by 20th-century artist Christopher Wilmarth, and art from 19th-century Iran. Key installations in the Collections Galleries will also be featured.Download PDF
The Harvard Art Museums will present five distinct exhibitions this summer, featuring works drawn from a diverse range of geographic regions and time periods, including Imperial China, 14th- to 17th-century Iran and Central Asia, 19th-century Iran, pre- and post-revolutionary America, and contemporary America. While showcasing the diversity of the museums’ collections, these exhibitions will present new research and scholarship and will encourage discussion about artists, artistic practice, culture, and collecting.
In addition to these exhibitions, the museums’ Collections Galleries will feature new installations as well as many “must see” works that have long been visitor favorites. These include world-renowned impressionist and cubist paintings, contemporary art from the Americas, German expressionist works, early Italian Renaissance paintings, Buddhist sculptures and Chinese jades, ancient Greek vessels, and works on paper from Islamic lands. The Collections Galleries are dynamic spaces, where works from the museums’ permanent collections and from museums across the globe are in regular rotation.
The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820
Through December 31, 2017
Special Exhibitions Gallery
The museums’ newest special exhibition reunites long-forgotten icons of American culture and presents new findings on a unique space—equal parts laboratory, picture gallery, and lecture hall—that stood at the center of artistic and intellectual life at Harvard and in New England for more than 50 years. The exhibition features more than 100 works displayed in four thematic sections, including a loose reconstruction of the original Philosophy Chamber itself. Included are full-length portraits by John Singleton Copley; exceptional examples of Native Hawaiian feather work and carving by indigenous artists of the Northwest Coast; a dazzling, large-scale orrery (a model of the solar system) by Joseph Pope; mezzotints after the work of expatriate American artists; and Stephen Sewall’s mural-sized copy of Native Americans’ inscriptions on the landmark known as Dighton Rock, an 11-foot boulder located in Berkley, Massachusetts. The Philosophy Chamber will travel to The Hunterian, at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, where it will be on view March 23 through June 24, 2018.
A New Light on Bernard Berenson: Persian Paintings from Villa I Tatti
Through August 13, 2017
University Research Gallery
This focused exhibition features illustrated Persian manuscripts and detached folios that were collected in the early 20th century by Harvard alumnus Bernard Berenson (1865–1959), the famous American art historian and connoisseur of Italian Renaissance painting. Berenson prized these works at his home in Florence, Villa I Tatti, which he bequeathed to Harvard and which now serves as the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. The exhibition offers the first opportunity to see these works outside Villa I Tatti and sheds important new light on Berenson’s little-known and understudied Persian collection, highlighting current research from various scholars on Berenson’s collecting interests and the artistic and cultural significance of the objects.
Adorning the Inner Court: Jun Ware for the Chinese Palace
Through August 13, 2017
University Teaching Gallery
The Harvard Art Museums hold the largest and finest collection in the West of a rare and strikingly beautiful type of ceramic ware used in the private quarters of the Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace in Beijing. These numbered Jun wares—so named because each is marked on its base with a single Chinese numeral—have long been admired for their fine potting, distinctive shapes, and radiant purple and blue glazes. Opinions on these vessels’ dates of origin vary widely, and given the scarcity of numbered Jun in most museum collections, a comprehensive study of this unusual ware has never been undertaken outside the imperial collections in China and Taiwan. This exhibition marks the 75th anniversary of Ernest B. Dane (Harvard College Class of 1892) and wife Helen Pratt Dane’s extraordinary gift of nearly 300 Chinese ceramics and later jades. It is also the first focused exhibition of their unique collection of palace Jun ware since it came to Harvard.
Reverie: Christopher Wilmarth, Before and After Mallarmé
Through August 13, 2017
University Study Gallery
In 1978, sculptor Christopher Wilmarth was asked by poet Frederick Morgan to illustrate his translation of a group of seven poems by the French symbolist Stéphane Mallarmé. The resulting print series, Seven poems by Stéphane Mallarmé, is also connected to an elaborate group of works by Wilmarth—charcoal and pastel drawings, etchings, and wall sculptures—each titled after the first line of a Mallarmé poem, known collectively as Breath. This exhibition is selected primarily from these paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints; it focuses on the way that Wilmarth worked in a variety of media to deal with the themes of Mallarmé’s poems and to shape his project.
Through June 30, 2017
How do we visualize a collection? The Department of Digital Infrastructure and Emerging Technology (DIET) at the Harvard Art Museums designs programs to track, record, and visualize data points associated with the objects in our collections. Visit the Lightbox Gallery to see DIET projects and prototypes for visualizing collections and collections data. The Lightbox Gallery is a collaborative space for digital projects. Each installation in the Lightbox Gallery is unique, developed by the museums in collaboration with faculty, staff, students, and visiting artists. The Lightbox Gallery uses digital tools to reveal connections between objects and play with the traditions of display.
Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran
August 26, 2017–January 7, 2018
University Research Gallery
This exhibition brings together four principal art forms from 19th-century Iran—lacquer, lithography, photography, and painting and drawing on paper—to explore their separate and intertwined histories, contexts of production, and means of dissemination across sectors of society ranging from the courtly elite to the citizenry at large. The almost 80 works in the exhibition, most of which have never before been exhibited, include illustrated books, album folios, pen boxes, mirror cases, single-sheet painted and printed images, and photographs. Two publications accompany this exhibition, including an exhibition catalogue with essays by Harvard scholars and graduate students, as well as a compendium of the nearly 150 beautiful drawings, paintings, and a print that make up the Harvard Qajar Album.
New Installations in the Collections Galleries
Notable installations on view this summer include a new selection of works from the Feinberg Collection, an extraordinary collection of Edo period (1603–1868) Japanese paintings generously promised to the museums by Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg. The installation in room 2600, on view mid-June through early December, features paintings from the Maruyama/Shijo school, notably Landscape in a Rainstorm (1782) by the revolutionary painter Maruyama Ōkyo, and Landscape (about 1720–1755) in ink on gold ground, spanning almost 7 meters in folding screen format, by Ōkyo’s predecessor, Watanabe Shikō. The exceptional painting, Young Girl Reading (c.1770) by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, on loan from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., is on view now through early September in room 2220, along with The Young Girl Abandoned (c. 1790), and other drawings by the artist. Winslow Homer’s renowned nocturne Summer Night (1890), on loan from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, is on display through mid-July in room 2700. The museums’ beloved Summer Scene (1869), by Jean-Frédéric Bazille, which has been traveling internationally, will replace the Homer painting in mid-July. A new installation of contemporary art, The Built Environment, including work by Lorna Simpson, Mimi Smith, Candida Höfer, and Thomas Struth, will be in room 1120 beginning in early August.
In addition, two new installations will open August 26 in the museums’ University Teaching Gallery, a space that serves faculty and students affiliated with Harvard’s Department of History of Art and Architecture during the academic year. The installations will support the course Women in South Asian Art, taught by professor Jinah Kim, as well as two courses taught by professor Maria Gough: The Russian and Soviet Avant-Gardes and Art & Revolution from the Paris Commune to the October Revolution (1871–1917).
Explore more via the museums’ exhibitions page: harvardartmuseums.org/visit/exhibitions.
Each exhibition will feature complementary programming, including gallery talks, lectures, symposia, and other events. See the museums’ calendar for details: harvardartmuseums.org/visit/calendar.
To explore works on view in the Collections Galleries, consult the museums’ interactive floor plan: harvardartmuseums.org/visit/floor-plan.
About the Harvard Art Museums
The Harvard Art Museums house one of the largest and most renowned art collections in the United States, and are comprised of three museums (the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler Museums) and four research centers (the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art, the Harvard Art Museums Archives, and the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis). The Fogg Museum includes Western art from the Middle Ages to the present; the Busch-Reisinger Museum, unique among North American museums, is dedicated to the study of all modes and periods of art from central and northern Europe, with an emphasis on German-speaking countries; and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum is focused on Asian art, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern art, and Islamic and later Indian art. Together, the collections include approximately 250,000 objects in all media. The Harvard Art Museums are distinguished by the range and depth of their collections, their groundbreaking exhibitions, and the original research of their staff. Integral to Harvard University and the wider community, the museums and research centers serve as resources for students, scholars, and the public. For more than a century they have been the nation’s premier training ground for museum professionals and are renowned for their seminal role in developing the discipline of art history in the United States. The Harvard Art Museums have a rich tradition of considering the history of objects as an integral part of the teaching and study of art history, focusing on conservation and preservation concerns as well as technical studies.
The Harvard Art Museums’ 2014 renovation and expansion carried on the legacies of the three museums and united their remarkable collections under one roof for the first time. Renzo Piano Building Workshop preserved the Fogg Museum’s landmark 1927 facility, while transforming the space to accommodate 21st-century needs. The museums now feature 40 percent more gallery space, an expanded Art Study Center, conservation labs, and classrooms, and a striking glass roof that bridges the facility’s historic and contemporary architecture. The three constituent museums retain their distinct identities in the facility, yet their close proximity provides exciting opportunities to experience works of art in a broader context. harvardartmuseums.org
Exhibitions, Events, and News
Our Special Exhibitions Gallery presents important new research on artists and artistic practice, and our University Galleries are programmed in consultation with Harvard faculty to support coursework. Visit the Exhibitions page for information on current and upcoming installations. Visit the museums’ Calendar to learn more about lectures, workshops, films, performances, special events, and other programs that are held throughout the year. Check out Index, our multimedia magazine, to keep up with what’s happening at the Harvard Art Museums.
The Harvard Art Museums receive support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
For more information, please contact:
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Harvard Art Museums