The Benin Bronzes and the Cultural History of Museums
What an 1897 exhibition at the British Museum can tell us about how African artworks were perceived in an era of imperialism.
Pompeii Mania in the Era of Romanticism
Nothing appealed more perfectly to the Romantic sensibility than the mix of horror and awe evoked by a volcano erupting.
A Roman Feast… of Death!
The banquet hall was painted black from ceiling to floor. By the pale flicker of grave lamps, the invited senators coud make out a row of tombstones.
The Controversial Backstory of London’s Most Lavish Room
James McNeill Whistler created the famous "Peacock Room" for a wealthy patron. But the patron never actually wanted it.
The Metamorphosis of a 17th-Century Insect Artist
Maria Sibylla Merian's work in the natural sciences was overlooked for centuries. Now a rare butterfly has been named in her honor.
What We Saw Under the Microscope’s Lens
The lens, a tool technology that helps make the invisible world visible, brought a revolutionary perspective to our descriptions of nature.