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Thibault Roland, Prudential, 2015, inkjet print.


Franklin W. Liu

Nestled with quiet dignity on Boston’s bustling Beacon Hill since 1849, and just a stone’s throw from the Massachusetts State House, is the Boston Athenæum, one of the oldest, manifestly resourceful, independent libraries in the United States.

Walking within its hallowed halls, with no need for reminder, researchers and visitors alike automatically slow down their gait and whisper in a reverential tones to avoid disturbing others on the premises.

When one pauses to sit and enjoy a book in the warm glow of a long row of desk lamps capped with pleasing emerald green shades, one sees that most reading rooms are flanked by life-size, exquisite, pristine marble busts of noteworthy societal benefactors; a graceful ambiance permeates and is restorative to one’s psyche.

Boston Athenæum is a hidden, precious gem housing voluminous, out-of-print books and documents delineating the unique sense and sensibility of historic New England; now Catharina Slautterback, curator of prints & photographs, has assembled a remarkable exhibition, “New England on Paper: Contemporary Art in Boston Athenæum’s Prints & Photographs Collections.” As many as 78 artworks from 28 local artists are presented in their Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery for the public’s viewing, conveniently located adjacent to the main entry.

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