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Exhibition Opening: Required Reading: Reimagining a Colonial Library

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Registration is NOT required
Free and open to the public

Exhibition Opening: Required Reading: Reimagining a Colonial Library

Required Reading will tell the story of some colonial Bostonians’ intellectual and spiritual quests and invite visitors to reflect on their own “must-read” lists. It will feature a full-scale replica of the massive, ark-like bookcase designed in 1883 to house the historic collection. The replica, supported in part by the Chipstone Foundation, is an achievement in contemporary fine woodworking. It will be modified in an innovative way, enabling visitors to immerse themselves in the rich contexts of the cabinet, its books, and their legacy.

The books’ arrival in New England as ‘necessary and useful’ texts for teaching and learning, their importance to religious leaders in Boston, and their impressive state of preservation—through the tumult of a city rocked by revolution—are dramatic and little-known,” says John Buchtel, Curator of Rare Books and Head of Special Collections. “More than three centuries later, their appeal is not simply as a time capsule or as examples of the craft of bookbinding, but also as a profound prompt, giving us the opportunity to imagine the readings we’d select as essential in our own lives.”

Linking the historic collection to the present day, community partners including the Chinese Historical Society of New England, Hebrew College, the Museum of African American History, and UMass-Boston will provide a plurality of perspectives by sharing their own “required reading” lists

Attendees are invited to preview the gallery at 5:30 pm before a 30-minute presentation by the exhibition’s curator John Buchtel at 6 pm. 

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The BA's virtual events are not routinely captioned. To request real-time captions for this event, please contact Hannah Weisman at or 617-720-7617 no fewer than four business days prior to the event.