Press release submitted by the Concord Museum
“I am convinced, both by faith and by experience, that to maintain one’s self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden
The Concord Museum today announced a year-long celebration of the Bicentennial of Henry David Thoreau’s birth. One of the world’s most original writers and thinkers (1817-1862), Thoreau is best remembered for living in a 10 x 15 foot house near Walden Pond, where he wrote Walden. In addition to being a great American author, Thoreau is renowned as a Transcendentalist, an abolitionist, a naturalist, a pioneer of ecological awareness and climate change, and an innovator of civil disobedience.
While the Bicentennial of Thoreau’s birth will be recognized world-wide and in his hometown of Concord, it is of special significance to the Concord Museum, which holds the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of artifacts related to Henry Thoreau, including the simple green desk on which he wrote Walden.
David F. Wood, Concord Museum’s Curator and author of An Observant Eye: The Thoreau Collection at the Concord Museum, stated, “Thoreau’s Bicentennial is something of a family affair for the Concord Museum. Henry David Thoreau knew the Museum’s founder, and called the collection he had formed ‘our museum’. Thoreau should perhaps be considered the most sophisticated material cultural historian at work in the mid-nineteenth century.”
Margaret Burke, Executive Director of the Concord Museum, explained, “Two centuries after his birth, we believe that much can be learned from Thoreau and his perception of the world. Thoreau’s insistence on thinking, observing, and living deliberately continues to suggest frameworks for both understanding the past and navigating the present.”
To celebrate the Thoreau Bicentennial year, the Concord Museum has created a year-long initiative titled “BE THOREAU”, which includes a series of special exhibitions and public programming such as workshops, gallery talks, and children’s activities. Margaret Burke explained, “The series encourages us to explore Thoreau’s writings from historical and contemporary perspectives and we sincerely hope will inspire new generations.”
Beginning on February 10, 2017, the Concord Museum will launch the Thoreau Bicentennial celebration with a deeply personal exhibition by photographer Abelardo Morell. Walden: Four Views | Abelardo Morell will be on exhibit in the Concord Museum’s Wallace Kane Gallery through August 20, 2017. The exhibition will also be accompanied by a broad range of special programs.
In collaboration with The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, and the Concord Museum, on September 29, 2017, This Ever New Self: Thoreau and His Journal, the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to the life of one of America’s most influential writers and thinkers, will open at the Concord Museum.
The newly- created exhibition, This Ever New Self: Thoreau and His Journal brings the remarkable holdings from the world’s two most significant Thoreau collections: journals, manuscripts, letters, and books, and field notes from The Morgan Library & Museum; and from the Concord Museum, unique personal items that have never before left Thoreau’s hometown, including the very desk on which he wrote his journal.
Every private journal tells the story of self. For his entire adult life, Thoreau filled notebook after notebook with his observations and reflections, strong in the belief that a closely examined life would yield infinite riches. His journal was his everyday companion, an essential tool for a mindful existence, and grist for Walden, one of the world’s most influential books. The exhibition takes Thoreau’s manuscript journal as a point of departure to introduce the many facets of this extraordinary man – the student, reader, writer, worker, thinker, Concord neighbor, and, above all, keen observer of the inner and outer world. It reveals how Thoreau used his journal as a place to cultivate – and constantly renew - his very own self.
The Morgan Library & Museum, June 2- September 10, 2017
Concord Museum, September 29, 2017 – January 21, 2018
About the Concord Museum
The Concord Museum is where all of Concord’s remarkable past is brought to life through an inspiring collection of historical, literary, and decorative arts treasures. Renowned for the 1775 Revere lantern and Henry Thoreau’s Walden desk, the Concord Museum is home to a nationally significant collection of American decorative arts, including clocks, furniture, and silver. Founded in 1886, the Museum is a gateway to historic Concord for visitors from around the world and a vital cultural resource for the town and region. www.concordmuseum.org
Below are just some of the highlights of the Thoreau Bicentennial celebration at the Concord Museum in 2017
Walden: Four Views | Abelardo Morell - Guided and inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s journals and his seminal work Walden, Abelardo Morell has made panoramic photographic works that suggest a new perspective from which to look at Walden Pond. (February 10- August 20, 2017)
The Anatomy of a Desk: Writing with Thoreau and Emerson - Visitors are invited to sit at reproductions of Thoreau and Emerson’s desks and share their own creative writings and drawings. Photography and social media are encouraged. (Opening February 10)
This Ever New Self: Thoreau and His Journal, one of the most comprehensive exhibits every devoted to the life of one of America’s most influential writers and thinkers. This major collaborative exhibition with The Morgan Library & Museum and the Concord Museum brings together the remarkable holdings from the world’s two most significant Thoreau collections. (on view in New York from June 2- September 10, 2017; Concord Museum from September 29, 2017 – January 21, 2018)
Why is Thoreau relevant today? A variety of public programs explore Thoreau’s thinking in a contemporary context, aligned with This Ever New Self and presented in coordination with local organizations.
Be Thoreau, a day-long public symposium with leading scholars exploring Thoreau’s ideas and their relevance today (at the Fenn School, October 28, 2017)
Walden, A Game, an in-museum game experience enabling visitors to immerse themselves in Thoreau’s physical and conceptual worlds. The experience simulates Thoreau’s experiment in living at Walden Pond, allowing players to walk in his virtual footsteps.
Teacher-training workshops on Thoreau funded by the National Endowment of Humanities, for 72 (K-12) teachers (July 2017)
For further information on Concord Museum’s Thoreau Bicentennial events and programs www.concordmuseum.org.
Additional Thoreau events locally, nationally, and internationally www.thoreaubicentennial.org