Home to gorgeous gardens, spectacular art, and stunning rare books and manuscripts, The Huntington also offers an impressive slate of lectures and conferences on topics and themes related to its collections. Below are audio recordings of 24 recent lectures and conversations.
To the Edges of the Earth (April 5, 2018)
Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Edward J. Larson discusses in his new book, To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration. Larson tells the story of three simultaneous and groundbreaking expeditions that pushed to the furthest reaches of the globe and brought within human reach a complete accounting of all the Earth’s surface.
Making Art/Discovering Science (March 14, 2018)
Steven Shapin, the Franklin L. Ford Research Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, draws attention to the widely held view that artistic productions are “things made up” and scientific knowledge consists of “things found out.” How stable and coherent are such presumptions? Shapin discusses examples drawn from 19th-century biology and from 20th-century and contemporary art.
Conversion & Religions of the World in 18th-Century America (March 7, 2018)
Mark Valeri, the Reverend Priscilla Wood Neaves Distinguished Professor of Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis, describes how new ideas of moral virtue and political reasonableness shaped Protestant approaches to religious choice in colonial America.
In Search of Blue Boy’s True Colors (Feb. 28, 2018)
Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, art historian and journalist, reveals the scholarship and science behind Project Blue Boy, The Huntington’s two-year effort to conserve one of Western Art’s greatest masterpieces in this annual Founder’s Day lecture.
Chop Suey, USA: How Americans Discovered Chinese Food (Feb. 22, 2018)
Yong Chen, professor of history at the University of California, Irvine, discusses the historical forces that turned Chinese food, a cuisine once widely rejected by Americans, into one of the most popular ethnic foods in the U.S.
The Introduction of Japanese Plants into North America (Feb. 20, 2018)
Through the pioneering work of collectors and nurserymen, many new Japanese species were introduced to the American gardening public in the late 19th century. Peter Del Tredici, Senior Research Scientist, Emeritus, of the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University, will examine the history behind these early introductions, some of which had a profound impact on both cultivated and wild landscapes across America.
Civil Wars: A History in Ideas (Feb. 15, 2018)
David Armitage, the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University, puts contemporary conflicts from Afghanistan to Syria into historical perspective and asks why it matters whether we call them “civil wars” instead of insurgencies, rebellions, or even revolutions.
Miraculous Things: The Culture of Consumerism in the Renaissance (Feb. 7, 2018)
Martha Howell, professor of history at Columbia University and the R. Stanton Avery Distinguished Fellow, discusses the meaning attached to goods—both humble and luxurious—during the Renaissance. The era is considered by many to be the first age of commercial globalism.
Louis C. Tiffany’s Glass Mosaics (Feb. 1, 2018)
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Louis Comfort Tiffany directed an artistic empire in the design and creation of stained glass windows and lamps, blown glass vases, and other objects of luxury. But his innovations in glass mosaics represented perhaps his most expressive mastery of the medium. Kelly Conway, curator of American glass at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, discusses this understudied aspect of Tiffany’s virtuosity. This talk is part of the Wark Lecture Series at The Huntington.
Exhibition Talk: Live Free or Die (Jan. 27, 2018)
Artists Soyoung Shin and Juliana Wisdom, two of the seven artists whose work is featured in the current exhibition COLLECTION/S, will discuss the influence of 18th-century French history and decorative arts on their work. The discussion is moderated by Jenny Watts, curator of photography and visual culture at The Huntington, and Catherine Hess, chief curator of European art.
Decoding the Book: Printing & the Birth of Secrecy (Jan. 24, 2018)
Bill Sherman, director of the Warburg Institute in London, delivers the inaugural annual lecture honoring David Zeidberg, recently retired Avery Director of the Library. In his presentation, Sherman traces the modern field of cryptography back to the Renaissance and asks what role the invention of printing played in the keeping of secrets. This talk is part of the Zeidberg Lecture in the History of the Book Series at The Huntington.
Portland Japanese Garden: The Journey Continues (Jan. 23, 2018)
For more than 50 years, the Portland Japanese Garden has been a haven of serenity and an important center for Japanese culture. Join Sadafumi Uchiyama, Garden Curator of the Portland Japanese Garden, as he reflects on their recent expansion and newly founded institute for teaching garden history, design, construction, and maintenance. This talk is part of the East Asian Garden Lecture Series at The Huntington.
Frederick Hammersley’s Remarkable Account of his Painting Practice & Materials (Jan. 18, 2018)
Abstract artist Frederick Hammersley (1919-2009) kept meticulous documentation of his painting process and materials. His Painting Books, compiled over the course of nearly 40 years, describe in detail the creation of hundreds of individual works. Scientist Alan Phenix of the Getty Conservation Institute will survey the technical content of the Painting Books, with particular focus on matters that have significance for the care and conservation of Hammersley’s works.
Anton Roman: San Francisco’s Pioneering Bookseller & Publisher (Jan. 17, 2018)
John Crichton, proprietor of the Brick Row Book Shop in San Francisco, shares the story of pioneering entrepreneur Anton Roman (1828-1903), who came to California from Bavaria in 1849 to make his fortune in the gold fields, then converted his gold into books and became one of the most important booksellers in the West. This program is the Book Club of California’s inaugural Kenneth Karmiole Endowed Lecture.
A Mormon Diarist in California, 1850-1858 (Jan. 10, 2018)
Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, the 300th Anniversary University Professor of History at Harvard University, shares stories from the remarkable diary of Caroline Crosby. The wife of a Mormon missionary, Crosby reached California with her husband in 1850 en route to a posting in the South Pacific, and later lived among “saints and strangers” in San Jose, San Francisco, and San Bernardino. This talk is part of the Mormon History Lecture Series at The Huntington.
Conversation and Readings from the Podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text (Dec. 21, 2017)
Vanessa Zoltan (co-host) and Ariana Nedelman (producer) of the celebrated podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, along with Huntington curator Vanessa Wilkie, discuss how media format shapes message. The podcast team discusses why they choose to do their program as a podcast (as opposed to a reading group, blog, or book), the opportunities of this media, as well as its limitations. This program was presented in conjunction with the exhibition “The Reformation: From the Word to the World.”
Cochineal in the History of Art and Global Trade (Dec. 10, 2017)
Alejandro de Ávila Blomberg of the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden and Oaxaca Textile Museum will explore the historical and cultural significance of this natural crimson dye. Used from antiquity, cochineal became Mexico’s second-most valued export after silver during the Spanish colonial period.
Christian Origins in Early Modern Europe: The Birth of a New Kind of History (Dec. 7, 2017)
In the 16th century, the unified Latin Christianity of the Middle Ages broke apart. New Protestant churches and a reformed Catholic church created new theologies, new liturgies, and new ways of imagining what early Christian life and worship were like. Anthony Grafton, professor of history at Princeton University, discusses how the new histories were ideological in inspiration and controversial in style, but nonetheless represented a vital set of innovations in western ways of thinking about and representing the past. This talk is part of the Crotty Lecture Series at The Huntington.
The Florentine Codex and the Herbal Tradition: Unknown versus Known? (Dec. 5, 2017)
The 16th-century ethnographic study known as the Florentine Codex included a richly detailed account of natural history of the New World. In this lecture, Alain Touwaide—historian of medicine, botany, and medicinal plants—compares the Codex and contemporary European herbal traditions. He suggests that they represent the opposition between unknown and known—a dynamic force that led to many discoveries in medicine through the centuries.
The Ecology of Eternity in a Song-Dynasty Buddhist Monastery (Nov. 21, 2017)
In his inaugural Huntington lecture, Phillip Bloom, The Huntington’s new director of the Center for East Asian Garden Studies and curator of the Chinese Garden, examines the history of Shizhuanshan, a hilltop Buddhist sanctuary in southwestern China constructed in the late 11th century. Bloom argues that, at Shizhuanshan, architecture, image, and text work together to transform the natural environment itself into a site for the eternal performance of Buddhist ritual.
Did Early-Modern Schoolmasters Foment Sedition? (Nov. 15, 2017)
Markku Peltonen, professor of history at the University of Helsinki and the Fletcher Jones Foundation Distinguished Fellow, discusses why the famous philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) placed the blame for the English Civil War and Revolution of the 1640s at the door of schoolmasters. This talk is part of the Distinguished Fellow Lecture Series at The Huntington.
The Landscape Designs of Ralph Cornell (Nov. 12, 2017)
Among the first generation of landscape architects in Southern California, Ralph Cornell (1890–1972) is considered the most influential. His wide scope of projects included college campuses, city parks, and significant residential commissions. Noted architect Brian Tichenor discusses Cornell’s life and milieu while examining three of his highly significant landscape designs. The lecture is presented in collaboration with the California Garden and Landscape History Society.
The Lords Proprietors: Land and Power in 17th-Century America (Nov. 8, 2017)
If England’s King Charles II and his courtiers had had their way, most of eastern North America would have been the personal property of about a dozen men who dreamed of wielding virtually absolute power over their vast domains. Daniel K. Richter, professor of history and director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the Robert C. Ritchie Distinguished Fellow, explores this neglected chapter in American history and why it still matters.
Rediscovered Botanical Treasures from the Smithsonian and the Hunt Institute (Nov. 5, 2017)
Lugene Bruno, curator of Carnegie Mellon’s Hunt Institute, and Alice Tangerini, curator of botanical art at the Smithsonian Institution, present an illustrated lecture on recently rediscovered artworks long forgotten in their archives. These botanical illustrations represent significant historical and scientific findings of an earlier era.