Piety and Leisure in Late Medieval Northern Europe (Mellon Collections Seminar)

One of the greatest strengths of the Cleveland Museum of Art is its recently reinstalled collection of late medieval European art. The seminar studies a multitude of objects in this collection with a special focus on those associated with the Capetian and Valois dynasties. Although their reign was far from tranquil, the two dynasties ruled the land generally known for its political and economic stability, powerful armies, vibrant spiritual and intellectual life, flourishing urban communities, and, most of all, for its magnificent visual and material culture. This culture is explored in the seminar through consideration of some of the major themes in late medieval art, keyed to specific objects in the CMA’s collection.

One of the iterations of the seminar resulted in a focus exhibition, Myth and Mystique. The exhibition embraced many of the seminar’s themes, but centered on the table fountain.  Each student chose an object from the exhibition checklist, researched it thoroughly, and wrote a wall text and a catalogue entry for it. As part of the course, students visited the conservation lab, participated in the catalogue-writing workshop, and were treated to a visit from an exhibition designer who showed them the different ways of planning an effective space for a show.

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