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Monday, March 29, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Registration is requested
Members and VESP holders: Free | Visitors: $5

Curator's Choice: Bugs!

with John Buchtel

Get out your butterfly net and join Curator of Rare Books & Head of Special Collections Dr. John Buchtel on a virtual insect hunt, exploring the beauty of small things in the remarkable holdings of the Athenæum's Special Collections. Discoveries will include a unique copy of a 1773 treatise on entomology extra-illustrated by a former owner with 90 carefully observed life-size watercolors of insects in the margins; a volume on moths and butterflies whose illustrations incorporate the wings of actual specimens; and a contemporary fine binding inspired by entomological specimen trays, with fifteen colorful butterflies made with leather onlays and intricate embroidery.

Can’t get enough bugs? John recommends The Fly Trap by Fredrik Sjöberg (Pantheon, 2015). According to John, the book is as much about the mania of collecting in general, as it is about the story of a remarkable entomologist hunting down elusive hoverflies.

John Buchtel is Curator of Rare Books and Head of Special Collections at the Boston Athenæum. He previously served as director of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections at Georgetown University and as curator of rare books in the Sheridan Libraries at The Johns Hopkins University. He earned his Ph.D. in English, with a focus on early modern British literature, at the University of Virginia, while also acting as curator of the teaching collections at Rare Book School. He teaches, lectures, and publishes on the history of books and printing, the history of libraries, book collecting, and literary patronage.
This event is part of ​our three-part series, "Curator's Choice." Join an Athenæum curator for a casual conversation about their current projects and the special collections items that inspire them, spark their curiosity, and generate discussion.
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Auto-generated captions are available for most virtual programs. To request live captioning or other accommodations, please contact Hannah Weisman at or 617-720-7617 at least four business days prior to the event.