News Archive 2009-2018

Holding History in the Palm of One’s Hand: Contemporary Perspectives on Medals and Coins from Antiquity to the Recent Past Archives

Installation view of “A Handheld History: Five Centuries of Medals from the Molinari Collection at Bowdoin College,” on view at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

Installation view of “A Handheld History: Five Centuries of Medals from the Molinari Collection at Bowdoin College,” on view at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

On November 13 join us as leading numismatic experts share their insights into the art of medals in a special panel discussion: “Holding History in the Palm of One’s Hand: Contemporary Perspectives on Medals and Coins from Antiquity to the Recent Past.” In connection with the exhibition, A Handheld History: Five Centuries of Medals from the Molinari Collection at Bowdoin College, on view until January 20, 2019, Stephen K. Scher, collector and art historian; Peter van Alfen, chief curator, American Numismatics Society; and Susan E. Wegner, associate professor of art history, will address the development of coins in the ancient world and the emergence of the portrait medal during the Renaissance. Each speaker brings a unique perspective, and the program will provide an opportunity to consider the relationship of coins, with monetary value, to medals, intended to commemorate specific individuals and events. The program will also shed light on the selection of medals in A Handheld History, including Pisanello’s medallic portrait of the Byzantine Emperor John VIII Palaeologus, widely considered the first medal, and examples of the ancient Roman coins that helped inspire its format. The exhibition extends to the mid-twentieth century, and suggests the enduring power of the medal to commemorate and provoke.

Recalling that his own collecting began while he himself was a student, Dr. Scher and his fellow panelists will explore the significance of the Molinari collection itself, donated to Bowdoin College by Cesare and Amanda Molinari over fifty years ago for the purpose of stimulating further research into medallic arts by students and faculty. The student curators of A Handheld History—Amber Orosco ’19, Stephen Pastoriza ’19, and Benjamin Wu ’18—will introduce the speakers and will participate in a public discussion following the formal presentations.

“Holding History in the Palm of One’s Hand: Contemporary Perspectives on Medals and Coins from Antiquity to the Recent Past” takes place in Kresge Auditorium in Bowdoin’s Visual Art Center, on Tuesday, November 13, from 4:30 – 6:00 pm.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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thumb:"Nodding Trillium, Trillium Cernuum," watercolor by Kate Furbish, American, 1834–1931. Courtesy the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives, Bowdoin College Library.