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Gallery Talk: Building Big in Ancient Mesopotamia and the Modern Imagination

Black and white print of two construction workers standing on an I-beam, which is suspended by a crane over a cityscape.
Samuel L. Margolies, American, Builders of Babylon, 1937, printed 1950. Aquatint. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Louise E. Bettens Fund, M12391.

Gallery Talk

Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street
Cambridge MA

Join Caitlin Clerkin to explore connections between ancient Mesopotamian ideologies about building and modern imaginings of marvelous constructions at ancient Babylon and Babel. We’ll look together at Mesopotamian building inscriptions and European and American prints ranging from the 15th to the 20th century that imagine towers and cityscapes at Babylon and Babel. Given that artistic references to Babylon and Babel have become more symbolic over time, this talk will also consider the ethical problem and the alienating impacts of imagining actual ancient places in primarily metaphorical terms.

Our galleries are full of stories—this series of talks gives visitors a chance to hear the best ones! The talks highlight new works on view, take a fresh look at old favorites, investigate artists’ materials and techniques, and reveal the latest discoveries by curators, conservators, fellows, visiting artists, technologists, and other contributors.

Led by:
Caitlin Clerkin, Frederick Randolph Grace Curatorial Fellow in Ancient Art, Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art

Gallery talks are limited to 18 people, and it is required that you reserve your place. At 10am the day of the event, reservations will open and may be arranged online through this form. The gallery talk reservation will also serve as your general museum reservation. If required, visitors will pay the museum admission fee upon arrival.

Please meet in the Calderwood Courtyard, in front of the digital screens between the shop and the admissions desk.

Please see the museum visit page to learn about our general policies for visiting the museums.

The Harvard Art Museums are committed to accessibility for all visitors. For anyone requiring accessibility accommodations for our programs, please contact us at at least 48 hours in advance.