The prospect of curating a major international loan exhibition is equal parts thrilling and intimidating. After eight years of intense research, loan negotiation, design development, and thousands of emails, Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World will open at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles on May 14, 2019. This presentation will look at the behind-the-scenes planning necessary by the lead curator, from the intellectual origins of the concept to some of the major challenges faced along the way. It will explore the exhibition’s major themes, including how the vivid images of the bestiary created an influential visual language that endured for centuries and became so popular that the animals escaped from the pages of books into other types of art objects ranging from massive tapestries to diminutive ivories. The exhibition will feature 115 objects from 45 lenders across the United States and Europe, including one third of the world’s surviving Latin illuminated bestiaries.
Elizabeth Morrison is Senior Curator of Manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum. She received her PhD in the History of Art from Cornell University and began work at the Getty in 1996. During her tenure there, she has curated numerous exhibitions including the 2010 co-curated exhibition Imagining the Past in France, 1250-1500, which was a finalist for the College Arts Association award for outstanding exhibition catalogue. She has published on both Flemish and French illumination and has served on the boards of the International Center of Medieval Art and the Medieval Academy of America.
The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception sponsored by Sam Fogg.
This lecture series, established in 1999, is sponsored by the International Center of Medieval Art, New York. ICMA promotes the study of the visual arts of the Middle Ages. Its worldwide membership includes academics, museum professionals, students, and other enthusiasts. ICMA publishes a scholarly journal Gesta, a newsletter, sponsors lectures and conference sessions and maintains the website www.medievalart.org
The annual lecture is delivered at The Courtauld by a scholar based in North America, strengthening transatlantic contacts among medievalists from the university and museum worlds.
A generous benefaction secured the continuation of the lecture series. Dr. William M. Voelkle, Curator of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, supports the travel and accommodation costs of the speaker.