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Opening Day Talk: Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas

Sunday, February 12, 2012
02:00 PM–03:00 PM

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Opening Day Talk: Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas

Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas: The John Bourne Collection Gift exhibition is a broad representation of art from the primary cultures of countries ranging from of ancient Mexico to Bolivia. Its breadth mirrors the collections of Henry Walters which is the foundation of the Walters Museum of Art. The John Bourne Collection follows in the footsteps of Mr. Walters, providing the basis upon which the museum will create a center for the display of, public education about and research on ancient American art and culture. This talk will survey the Bourne collection, highlighting objects of historical, aesthetic and narrative interest. The role of conservation science in the study and display of art also will be discussed, featuring the work of museum conservators Julie Lauffenburger and Jessica Arista.

The talk concludes with a brief biographical sketch of John Bourne and the role he played in the 1946 discovery of the spectacular frescoes at the Maya site of Bonampak, located in the dense jungles of Chiapas, Mexico. Heralded as the Sistine Chapel of the ancient Maya, the murals came to play a seminal role in Mexican national politics of identity during the 1950s, as well as the international politics of archaeological research by foreigners in Mexico.

About the Speaker

Dorie Reents-Budet is curator of the arts of the ancient Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC.  She has held art history and anthropology faculty positions at The Johns Hopkins University, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Dorie is also the art historian for the Maya Ceramics Project at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. She specializes in Maya ceramic studies, combining the fields of art history, archaeology and nuclear geochemistry.


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