Welcome to Learning from Things

New York/Berlin.....

posted on 18 Feb 2013 13:17 by Elena Pinto Simon


In late January, Dean Peter Miller launched an exciting new initiative for the BGC: our first attempt to connect our institute on West 86th Street with a partner institution abroad. This happened via our first telepresence seminar with The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.

At this two-hour session Doris Oltrogge spoke at the Planck Institute’s colloquium “Art and Knowledge in Pre-Modern Europe”, an ongoing series for them. Her topic was “Manuscripts and Prints: Exchange, Use and Reading of Recipe Texts in Early Modern Times” Dr. Oltroppe is a Research Associate in the Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

The BGC audience was a full participant in the seminar. Those present in our seminar room had a chance to ask the speaker in Berlin questions via our video link. At the BGC, the seminar came with morning coffee; in Berlin, it was afternoon tea. In both places, it was a complete success.

We hope will be the first of many such explorations, and this first connection opens up many possibilities for the future – a Global BGC may be just around the corner…

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London calling...

posted on 14 Feb 2013 13:32 by Elena Pinto Simon


A group of fashion students from the Courtauld Institute in London were our guests in late January, as part of their annual January trip to New York City. Organized by their faculty member, Rebecca Arnold, this is the second visit we’ve had from our sister institute in London.
The students had a tour of the Circus and the City exhibition, led by curator Matt Wittmann, and then spent an hour in our Digital Media Lab, with Kimon Keramidas, looking at some of our recent student projects, as they think about their own upcoming virtual exhibition assignments. They then joined our faculty and current MA students for tea and conversation in the sixth floor lounge. The afternoon was topped off by their joining us for our evening seminar series. We all enjoyed hosting our colleagues from London, and a special thanks goes to Nina Stritzler Levine for suggesting what we hope will continue to be a regular dialogue.

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seminars, anyone?

posted on 04 Feb 2013 20:23 by Elena Pinto Simon

The BGC spring seminar/lecture series are underway with the start of the new term.

Last week, Professor Larry Silver, from the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania ,led us in an interesting conversation about “India Ink: Imagery of the Subcontinent in Sixteenth - Century Europe” — a lecture that continues our ongoing looking and thinking about print visualization in the Early Modern world. His presentation was part of the Renaissance/Early Modern Seminar, convened by Professors Andrew Morrall and Deborah Krohn. Week two brought additional guests:

Prof. Daniel Harkett from the History of Art and Visual Culture Department , Rhode Island School of Design , lectured in our ongoing Selz Lecture Series in French Art and Culture on “The Studio and the Salon: Artists, Masculinity, and Sociability in the early Nineteenth Century”. Professor Jeffrey Collins, BGC academic chair, is the convener of the Selz series. Prof. Harkett explored salon life in Paris, focusing on paintings by some of the period’s artists and the salon culture’s key figures of the period.


On January 30 Professor Daniel Smail from the History Department at Harvard University led a very lively presentation /discussion on “An Anthropology of Goods in Mediterranean Europe (1330-1450). Prof. Smail has been intensely studying inventories from the Marseilles area and has recovered some remarkable information about household goods and holdings. This event was also part of the Seminar in Culture History series.


Most Tuesday and Wednesday nights faculty, students, and staff gather in our lecture hall for a wide range of special guest presentations. We have come to think of these weekly lectures, which range from topics in New York and American Material Culture, Early Modern Culture, French Art and Material Culture, New Media, Islamic Art and Material Culture, Modern Design History, Museum Conversations, Conservation Conversations, and Indigenous Arts, as our ‘fifth course’, and an extraordinary opportunity for students and faculty to hear some of the most interesting new work in a range of fields that frame or expand the work of the BGC. Guests come from around the world to share their research projects – and are often a new work-in-progress.

Dean Miller has been known to say our style is informal but serious, and these weekly gatherings most certainly are both. So if it’s a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, many in our community are gathered together at 38, sharing wine, conversation, and interesting ideas!

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