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Monument Wars: A Pop-Up Discussion about Collective Memory and Public Art

Friday, September 15, 2017 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Registration is NOT required
Members only with no fee
Clark Mills (1815-1883). John Caldwell Calhoun, 1845. Plaster, 24 1/2 x 13 3/4 x 9 1/4 inches (61.7 x 35 x 23.3 cm). Boston Athenæum; Deposited by Benjamin J. Howland, 1846 (UH167).
Clark Mills (1815-1883). John Caldwell Calhoun, 1845. Plaster, 24 1/2 x 13 3/4 x 9 1/4 inches (61.7 x 35 x 23.3 cm). Boston Athenæum; Deposited by Benjamin J. Howland, 1846 (UH167).

Monument Wars

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?