A Pop-Up Discussion about Collective Memory and Public Art
In the wake of disturbing confrontations in Charlottesville, Virginia and elsewhere, memorials to our nation’s Confederate past have become a topic of heated debate. Cultural institutions face a challenging question: how to contextualize, interpret, and facilitate dialogue around such objects without glorifying the messages they represent?
Please join us for a conversation about a poignant artwork in the Athenæum's collection: a bust of John C. Calhoun, the South Carolina senator and United States vice president whose intellectual defense of slavery set the stage for the Civil War. How did this plaster come to reside on the iconic fifth floor? What function does it serve in our historic institution? What should the future of such artworks be?