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The “Peculiar Problems” of Preservation: Life, Death, and the Afterlife in the Museum

Lecture Leventritt Lecture

Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street
Cambridge MA

This event was recorded. Please view the lecture here.

In 1933, Rutherford John Gettens, conservation scientist at the Fogg Art Museum, wrote a letter to his colleague Dr. S. Paramasivan to ask about the “peculiar problems” he faced in the conservation of archaeological objects at the Madras Government Museum, in India. Who, he wondered, has the right to preserve museum collections, and why? Whose histories are preserved and whose are erased or omitted through the preservation process?

Though nearly 90 years have passed since this correspondence, some of these same issues continue to trouble museums around the world. In this lecture, Sanchita Balachandran, associate director of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, will consider what role the scientific, physical, and cultural practices of preservation play in what (and who) lives, dies, or is brought back to life in the museum.  

The lecture will take place in Menschel Hall, Lower Level. Please enter the museums via the entrance on Broadway. Doors will open at 5:30pm.

Free admission, but seating is limited. Tickets will be distributed beginning at 5:30pm at the Broadway entrance. One ticket per person.
Complimentary parking available in the Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, Cambridge.

Support for the lecture is provided by the M. Victor Leventritt Fund, which was established through the generosity of the wife, children, and friends of the late M. Victor Leventritt, Harvard Class of 1935. The purpose of the fund is to present outstanding scholars of the history and theory of art to the Harvard and Greater Boston communities.