The Room Where It Happens: On the Agency of Interior Spaces, Oct. 13-14, 2017, Harvard Art Museums

Laura Igoe's picture
October 13, 2017 to October 14, 2017
Massachusetts, United States
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Architecture and Architectural History, American History / Studies

The Room Where It Happens: On the Agency of Interior Spaces

Friday, October 13 – Saturday, October 14, 2017


A symposium hosted by the

Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA


This symposium explores the spaces of artistic, artisanal and intellectual production. From the artist’s studio to the alchemist’s lab, from the stateroom to the secret chamber, from the brick and mortar hall to the winding corridors of cyberspace, rooms and their contents have long impacted history, and transformed their inhabitants. Held in conjunction with the Museums’ special exhibition The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766-1820 this symposium brings together artists, architects, and historians to consider the spaces where objects and ideas are generated.


Friday, October 13

Keynote Lecture

Making Room: Cartography, Collecting, and the Construction of Empire
Louis Nelson, Professor of Architectural History and the Associate Dean, School of Architecture, University of Virginia


Saturday, October 14

ROOMS FOR LOOKING: Parlor / Museum / Studio


“No One Could Prevent Us Making Good Use of Our Eyes”: Enslaved Spectators and Southern Plantation Spaces

Jennifer Van Horn, Assistant Professor of Art History and History, University of Delaware


The Room of Broken Bodies: Civil War Wounds, the Army Medical Museum, and Perceiving Re-Unification

Julia B. Rosenbaum, Associate Professor and Chair, Art History, Bard College; Director of Research and Publications, The Olana Partnership, Olana State Historic Site


The Symposium on Habitability: Robert Irwin, NASA, and the Case of the Artist as a Meta-Scholar

Boris Oicherman, Cindy and Jay Ihlenfeld Curator for Creative Collaborations, Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota

Moderated by María Dolores Sánchez-Jáuregui, William Hunter Tercentenary Curatorial Traineeship, The Hunterian


ROOMS FOR MAKING: Library / Laboratory / Model


“A Scene in a Library”: Inventing and Destroying Enlightenment Photography at Soho House

Matthew Hunter, Associate Professor, Department of Art History & Communication Studies, McGill University


Connected Interiors: Learning Architecture and Observation in Meiji Japan

Matthew Mullane, Ph.D. candidate, School of Architecture, Princeton University


Interior as Microcosm: The Production of Epistemologies, Ethics, and Identities at Biosphere 2, 1991–1994
Meredith Sattler, Assistant Professor of Architecture, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo


Moderated by Ethan W. Lasser, Head, Division of European and American Art, and Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., Curator of American Art, Harvard Art Museums

VIRTUAL ROOMS: Theater / Period Room / Cockpit


A Machine of Visibility: Paul Nelson’s Surgical Theater at the Cité Hospitalière de Lille

Nicholas Robbins, Ph.D. candidate, Department of the History of Art, Yale University


Visiting Mrs. M.-----‘s Cabinet: Period Room as Pedagogy

Sarah Anne Carter, Curator and Director of Research, The Chipstone Foundation


Bedroom Aviators—Flight Simulation and the Domestic Realm

Chad Randl, Visiting Lecturer in Architecture, Cornell University


Moderated by Laura Turner Igoe, Adjunct Instructor, Temple University and Research Associate, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania


Closing Remarks

Follies and Wonder Rooms
Mark Dion, Conceptual Artist

Introduced by Ruth Erickson, Mannion Family Curator, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston


This project is supported in part by major grants from the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Henry Luce Foundation.

The exhibition and catalogue were also supported in part by the following endowed funds: the Bolton Fund for American Art, Gift of the Payne Fund; the Henry Luce Foundation Fund for the American Art Department; the William Amory Fund; and the Andrew W. Mellon Publication Funds, including the Henry P. McIlhenny Fund.

All events will take place at:
Menschel Hall, Lower Level
Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA

All symposium events are free and open to the public, but registration is required. For details on the programs, including how to register, visit

Contact Info: 

Laura Turner Igoe

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