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The Power of the Unicorn: A Lecture by Barbara Boehm

August 22 @ 12:00 pm 1:00 pm

French and Southern Netherlandish, The Unicorn Purifies Water from the Unicorn Tapestries, 1495–1505
Wool warp with wool, silk, silver and gilt wefts, 145 x 149 inches
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1937, 37.80.2.
Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

This lecture by Barbara Boehm discusses unicorns; dismissed today as the stuff of legend, they continue to entrance the young and to inspire the creative, as the dreamy paintings of Emilie Stark-Menneg clearly demonstrate. But for Medieval and Renaissance Europeans, they were elusive beasts worthy of serious research and analysis. This lecture will trace the scientific study of the unicorn and consider how the effort to harness its extraordinary power resulted in the creation of fine works of art.

Barbara Drake Boehm is the Paul and Jill Ruddock Curator emerita of The Met Cloisters. She was curator of the exhibition A Blessing of Unicorns (2013), author of A Blessing of Unicorns for The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (2019), and a contributor to the Potsdam conference on unicorns (2024).

Beyond the world of unicorns, Dr Boehm was curator of The Colmar Treasure: A Medieval Jewish Legacy (2019), The Game of Kings (2011-12), and co-curator of the exhibitions Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven (2016), Prague: The Crown of Bohemia (2005), Enamels of Limoges (1996), and of Medieval Jewish Art in Context (2011–12). She contributed to the exhibitions L’Art du Jeu (2012–13) (Musée de Cluny, Paris) and Treasures of Heaven (2010–11) (Cleveland, Baltimore, London).

A graduate of Wellesley College, Dr. Boehm received her Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Dr. Boehm was named a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, an honor bestowed by the French government.

Cost: $10; $8 for members