Providence Athenaeum is a unique library and cultural center that welcomes and enriches the educational and cultural pursuits of its members and the community and encourages a diverse public to engage in spirited conversation. Providence Athenaeum offers a wide range of experiences by providing and conserving extraordinary collections, offering innovative and compelling programs, promoting and collaborating with the community’s vibrant cultural sector, and highlighting and preserving its historic building.
Brown University Assistant Professor of Archaeology and Egyptology & Ancient Western Asian Studies Laurel Bestock on “The Lure of the Exotic: Egyptomania in the wake of the Napoleonic expedition.”
When Napoleon invaded Egypt at the turn of the 19th century, his forces included a group of scholars, artist, engineers, and other scientists assigned to document everything from the flora and fauna to the architecture and antiquities they found. Their work culminated in the publication between 1809 and 1829 of the Description de l’Egypte, a large-format, multi-volume, comprehensive description, complete with detailed engravings, of ancient and modern Egypt, including its natural history. The dissemination of this monumental work sparked “Egyptomania” – a veritable craze for ancient Egyptian culture – throughout the Western world; its influence could be traced through everything from literature to fashion in the early to mid-nineteenth century. The Athenaeum was able to purchase a copy of the Description in 1836; it is still available for viewing by the public today. This Salon serves as prequel to a series that will continue in spring 2014 (when a related exhibit will open as well) on 19th century developments in travel, exploration, and natural history, including how their influence found cultural expression during that time. The series will culminate in a program at the RISD Museum in spring 2014, to coincide with the re-opening of the Museum’s Ancient Art galleries (currently closed for renovation) – home to RISD’s resident mummy, Nesmin.
This event is free and open to the public