Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections; Manuscripts for Pleasure & Piety
In the Daley Family and Monan Galleries
September 12–December 11, 2016
Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections is the inaugural exhibition at the McMullen Museum of Art’s new home. Beyond Words is a three-venue collaborative exhibition, held jointly at Harvard University’s Houghton Library (Manuscripts for Church & Cloister) and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Italian Renaissance Books). Featuring illuminated manuscripts from nineteen Boston-area institutions, Beyond Words provides a sweeping overview of the history of the book in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as well as a guide to its production, illumination, functions, and readership. With over 150 manuscripts on display, Manuscripts for Pleasure & Piety at the McMullen Museum focuses on lay readership and the place of books in medieval society. The High Middle Ages witnessed an affirmation of the visual and, with it, empirical experience. There was an explosion of illumination. Various types of images, whether in prayer or professional books, attest to the newfound importance of visual demonstration in matters of faith and science alike.
Organized by the McMullen Museum, the Houghton Library at Harvard University, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Beyond Words has been curated by Jeffrey F. Hamburger, William P. Stoneman, Anne-Marie Eze, Lisa Fagin Davis, and Nancy Netzer. Major support for the exhibition has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and, at the McMullen, by Leslie and Peter Ciampi, and the Patrons of the McMullen Museum. The accompanying catalogue has been underwritten by Daniel and Joanna S. Rose with additional support from the Rose Marrow Fund.