Published: May 2006
In 2002, faculty members in Boston College’s Romance languages and literatures department first conceived the idea of an art exhibition about how secular and sacred themes were made manifest in medieval and early modern objects. By the time Secular/Sacred opened at the McMullen Museum of Art four years later, it had drawn upon the efforts of scholars in Islamic studies, history, theology, art history, and Slavic, French, and Italian literature; and the strengths of three Boston institutions, the Boston Public Library, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Boston College.
The story of this institutional collaboration is documented in a film, produced by Paul Dagnello and Keith Ake, which provides an insider’s perspective on the process of assembling a major art exhibition. Captured are negotiations among the 13 curators during meetings at Boston College; the repair and conservation of a fully illuminated 33-foot-long, 15th-century French manuscript scroll at the BPL; and interviews with Nancy Netzer, McMullen Museum director; Earle A. Havens, Boston Public Library curator of manuscripts; and Diana Larsen, McMullen Museum exhibits and collections manager.
Secular/Sacred: 11th-16th Century Works from the Boston Public Library and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is on view exclusively at the McMullen Museum of Art through June 4, 2006, and features some 100 objects, including illuminated manuscripts, tapestries, silks, stone sculptures, metalwork, paintings, ceramics, and early printed books.