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The Walters Art Museum Members Magazine September–Dec 2011

Mar 28, 2016




The Walters Art Museum Members Magazine September–Dec 2011

  • WHAT W




  • our missionThe Walters Art Museum brings art and people together for enjoyment, discovery and learning. We strive to create a place where people of every background can be touched by art. We are committed to exhibitions and programs that will strengthen and sustain our community.

    The Walters Art Museum is open WednesdaySunday, 10 a.m.5 p.m. The Walters Magazine, Vol. 64, No. 3Published by the Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore

    Editor, charles dibbleDesigner, tony venneArt Photography, susan tobin

    Please send membership questions to [email protected]

    Please send editorial comments to [email protected]

    above: The Archimedes Palimpsest in 1998 before disbinding. Photo by John Dean

    cover: Abigail Quandt rejoins two forgeries. Photo by Vincent Carney

    board of trustees 20112012Chair andrea b. laportePresident douglas w. hamilton, jr.Vice-President ellen n. bernardVice-President thomas s. bozzutoVice-President nancy r. sasserVice-President dr. hervey (peter) s. stockman, jr.Treasurer frank k. turner, jr.Secretary dr. gary k. vikan, directorjulianne e. aldermanpeter l. baincalvin h. bakerneal d. bordenh. ward classenrosalee c. davisonmichael de havenoncynthia l. eganchristine m. espenshadejonathan m. fishmanbruce w. flemingguy e. flynnmichael b. glicksanford m. grossthe honorable c. yvonne holt-stonestanley mazaroffneil a. meyerhoffbailey morris-eckjennifer murphycharles j. nabitmarilyn a. pedersenwilliam h. perkinslynn homeier rauch george k. reynolds, iiijohn r. rockwelledward l. rosenberg bernard selzgail l. shawe mary baily wielerex-officio membersthe honorable stephanie rawlings-blakethe honorable bernard c. youngthe honorable martin j. omalleythe honorable kevin kamenetzthe honorable ken ulmananne n. apgarrosemary eckmargaret z. fergusonlaura l. freedlanderbarbara guarnieriadele kasselizabeth koontzmarco k. merricktom noonandiana ulmantrustees emeritidr. robert s. feinbergsamuel k. himmelrich, sr.cynthia r. meadwilliam l. paternotteadena w. testajay m. wilsoninternational advisory boarddr. james michael bradburnewendyce h. brodyeddie c. browndr. myrna bustaniconstance r. caplanphilip d. englishsam fogglaura l. freedlander leah ganslerjoel goldfrankbruce liviedr. james marrowangela mooredwight plattgeorge rochepaul ruddockthe honorable paul sarbanesdonald j. shepardgeorge m. shermanjohn waters, jr.dr. daniel h. weissbenjamin b. zucker




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    Dear Members,

    In May 1959, physicist and novelist C.P. Snow delivered his famous Rede Lecture entitled The Two Cultures, in which he characterized the scientific and humanistic modes of discourse as mutually incomprehensible. This fall, through three exhibitions devoted to the intersection of science and art, the Walters will do its part to prove C.P. Snow wrong.

    The Archimedes Palimpsest, the oldest surviving copy of works by the greatest mathematical genius of antiquity, was sold at auction in October 1998 to an anonymous buyer for 2 million dollars. The following January that precious but much-damaged 10th-century manuscript was placed on deposit at the Walters by its owner, with the aim that it be conserved and imaged (the Archimedes text had been erased and overwritten with a prayer book), and then read and made available on the internet. Thus began a 12-year journey that included stops at the Monastery of St. Sabas in the Judean Desert, where the manuscript had been used in religious services for four centuries, and at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (one of the most advanced multipurpose physics laboratories in the world), where the text of four pages of the book over-painted with modern forgeries was revealed. The project drew on an international team of more than 80 scientists and humanists, all expertly orchestrated by the Walters Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books, William Noel, working in collaboration with Head of Books and Paper Conservation Abigail Quandt.

    The goals set out in 1999 have now all been met, but before the book goes back to its owner, its fascinating journeyincluding the story of Archimedes and his discoverieswill be recounted in our major fall exhibition Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes. The exhibition will be accompanied by The Archimedes Codex, in which co-authors Will Noel and Stanford professor Reviel Netz present the story of the once-lost manuscript as part

    archaeological detective story, part science and part history; two schol-arly volumes published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Walters incorporate the work of the Archimedes Palimpsest Project team.

    Lost and Found will be complemented by two smaller shows focusing on art and science. The first, occupying the last section of the Archimedes installation, will offer a look at what we hope to discover in the future as we bring science and conservation to bear on our understanding and appreciation of works of art. The interactive learning stations in these galleries will focus on five works from the Walters permanent collection and will demonstrate how the museums staff collaborates to learn about

    and conserve art. Authenticity will be explored, as will a cutting-edge scientific technique for the preservation of silver now being investigated at the Walters.

    Finally, in our Level 4 focus show gallery, we will partner with the Cognitive Science Depart-ment of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University to present an innovative exhibition that explores the impact of severe brain damage on an artist. In Puzzles of the Brain: An Artists Journey through Amnesia, visitors will be introduced to Lonni Sue Johnsons work through covers the artist drew for The New Yorker magazine and follow her journey through amnesia resulting from an attack of encephalitis in late 2007. The artists post-illness creations document her struggle to capture the moment through words and images on paper. Seen from the perspective of cognitive science, this body of work offers provocative insights into memory, creativity and the power of the human spirit.

    Gary Vikan, Director




  • The Walters Art Museum is celebrated world-wide for its outstanding collection of manu-scripts: elegantly handwritten documents from the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, individu-ally selected for the quality of their glorious illu-minations, and nearly all of them in the superb condition that typifies Henry and William Walters extraordinary collection of works of art span-ning the globe. So it was with surprise, and some trepidation, that twelve years ago I followed Gary Vikans instruction to track down a book called The Archimedes Palimpsest. The Archimedes Palimp-sest is not the type of book that Henry Walters would have bought. It was in appalling condition, you couldnt read it since most of the 10th-century text is invisible to the naked eye, and it was the ugliest manuscript I knew of. Why did the director ask me to pursue it? Because it was the most important scientific manuscript ever sold at auctionthe only manuscript in the world where you could find hitherto lost treatises of Archi-medes, the greatest mathematician of antiquity. This manuscript looked like shredded wheat, but it was actually Archimedes brainin a box.

    I succeeded in tracking down the book, and its owner left it on my desk in January 1999. He wanted the manuscript conserved, he wanted it imaged with the best technology available, and he wanted it fully read. He then wanted all the results published on the internet, so that anyone could access all the information in the book for free. His idea was to take the most difficult data in the world to accessfragile, invisible, unique and expen-siveand make it available to everyone, from their desktops, free of charge, to do with as they liked. He generously agreed to fund the entire project.

    What followed was, for Abigail Quandt and me, a 12-year journey that has taken us around the world as we sought to accomplish this task. We found conservation scientists in Canada and Rome; we found high-tech scientific imagers from Hawaii and Oklahoma; we found scholars of classical texts from Israel, Latvia, and Budapest, as well as from Oxford and Cambridge; and we pinched a program manager from the cia. We searched long and hard. We both think we succeeded, and this fall we are

    presenting the results of our labors in Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes, running from October 16, 2011 through January 1, 2012.

    We investigated every aspect of this book that we could. We analyzed the chemistry not just of the parchment and the bacteria and fungus that peppered its pages. We studied not just the ink, but the pigments of its paintings as well. We imaged it in sixteen different wavebands of light in order to try to decipher every single page of the book. No manuscript has ever been under the camera as often as The Archimedes Palimpsest. We also investigated the history of the book and have been able to completely rewrite the story of what happened to the manuscript in the twentieth century, when it was stuck together with wood glue, painted over, yet again, with gold-ground forgeries, and left to rot in a basement.

    The manuscript was made up of the parchment of seven other books, which had had their texts erased. One of these bo