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Creating Connections Lecture Series | Saving Culture in Crisis Today with Dr. Richard Kurin

Thursday, March 21, 2024

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Location: The Rockwell Museum

Open to the public | Members: Free, Not-Yet-Members: $10, Students: $5 | Advance registration encouraged 

Conflicts and disasters take an immeasurable toll on cultural sites and living traditions that provide meaning and coherence to societies. They often damage and destroy museums, archives, libraries, centers of worship, and treasured collections, and endanger the continuity of artistic expressions and social practices key to a people’s identity, creativity, and resilience.  

The Smithsonian Institution is at the forefront of U.S. and international efforts to save cultural heritage in the face of crisis, working with local partners to help restore the fabric of social life given its often physical fragmentation.  

Dr. Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian’s distinguished scholar and ambassador-at-large and founder of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, will discuss the institution’s vital efforts to preserve cultural heritage under threat in the U.S. and worldwide. The Smithsonian has led cultural recovery efforts in Haiti after its devastating 2010 earthquake, in Nepal, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and other places after natural disasters. It has worked to protect and recover historical and cultural sites and safeguard collections in Mali, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Iraq, and in Ukraine following the Russian invasion. These efforts have literally involved picking up pieces of Haitian art buried under rubble, reassembling thousands of fragments of ancient Mesopotamian sculptures blown up in terrorist attacks and tracking down and repatriating thousands of looted and trafficked antiquities and artworks.  

Over his 44-year career, Kurin has served as the Smithsonian’s long-time under secretary, overseeing all of its national museums, scientific research centers, and cultural and educational programs. He also served for two decades as director of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.  

Kurin received his Ph.D in anthropology from the University of Chicago, has written six books, including Saving Haiti’s Heritage: Cultural Recovery after the Earthquake, The Smithsonian’s History of America 101 Objects, and Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served with the President’s Committee for the Arts & Humanities, the White House Historical Association, the Federal Interagency Panel for World Heritage, the Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee, and the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. He co-chairs the Heritage Emergency National Task Force with FEMA and leads the Smithsonian’s partnership with the U.S. Army’s “Monuments Men and Women.” 

Exclusive Opportunity for Silver Dollar Society Members 

The Rockwell Museum is pleased to offer post-lecture Silver Dollar Society Receptions with Smithsonian speakers following the February and March lectures!  As part of our Creating Connections Lecture Series, members of the Silver Dollar Society are invited to join us for a reception featuring cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and light meal stations on the Museum’s second floor.  

Space is limited and will be reserved on a first come, first served basis. Registration for this reception is required by 5 p.m. March 12. Register today! 

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