Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Evening of High Spirits

Wednesday, December 3, 7 - 9pm

An Evening of High Spirits to Benefit
Providence Athenaeum!

Warmly welcome upcoming winter holidays with Dickens, lively music, seasonal treats, and a Port tasting, too! Actor Robb Dimmick conjures the world of Dickens with readings from A Christmas Carol, fiddlers extraordinaire Cathy Clasper-Torch and Mike Fischman play spirited accompaniment, Blackstone Caterers serve celebratory appetizers, and Campus Fine Wines pours a variety of Port wines to toast the merriment.

Thank-you to our event sponsor Hegeman & Co. Fine Jewelry

Friday, November 28, 2008

Valerie Tutson

Fri 11/28/2008, 5-7pm:

SALON - Storyteller Valerie Tutson on Once and Future Storytelling. In Senegal they say, "When an old person dies, a library is buried." Tutson explores storytelling, the work of Rhode Island Black Storytellers and its annual FUNDA FEST in January, and the relevance of this ancient oral art form in today's image-driven technical age; as she slyly puts it, storytelling is not a spectator sport! Co-presented with the RI Foundation. For Athenaeum members and their guests.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Karl Jacoby

Fri 11/21/2008, 5-7pm:
SALON - Karl Jacoby on the History of the Frontier and the Frontiers of History. Brown History Professor Jacoby's new book Shadows at Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History details an 1871 massacre of Tucson-area Apaches by Anglos, Mexicans, and native tribes. In a nod to our last year's series on 1838 and this year's on the future of the library, his talk will trace 1830s policies and philosophies that led to increasing conflicts and violent resolutions as the frontier expanded lawlessly westward in the decades that followed, and he'll reflect on the changing role of the 21st century author in an increasingly on-line world. Do questions of ownership, citizenship, and nativism raised by 19th century geographical expansion connect to the idea of the borderless global world seemingly promised by today's electronic expansion of information? Books for sale and signing thanks to Borders! For Athenaeum members and their guests. (Sponsor: Studio Hop, 810 Hope Street, 401-621-2262)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

James Wood

Tues 11/18, 7pm:
Series: The Once and Future Library, part 3: The New Yorker's literary critic James Wood on Reading and Writing on Reading. A world of libraries presupposes a world of readers; what is the future of that world? Wood gives a brief history of the notion of the common reader, describing how critics and writers have tried over centuries to engage a large, public readership; defends the idea of the common reader against attacks from both populism and faux-populist elitism; and distinguishes between current academic writing and his brand of literary journalism. Wood's new How Fiction Works available for sale and signing thanks to Borders. Free and open to the public! (Series Sponsor: Dan Siegel, M&S Rare Books)

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Sunday, November 16, 2008, 4 to 6pm at the Music Mansion, 88 Meeting Street in Providence
Proustfest: Music and Wine from the World of Marcel Proust!
Proceeds to benefit the Providence Athenaeum

The Aurea Ensemble performing works by Ravel, Faure, Franck and other composers Proust knew and loved, plus reading passages from his writing
A Champagne and sparkling wine tasting with Campus Fine Wines
Fabulous French hors d'oeuvres by Blackstone Caterers

Friday, November 14, 2008

Anka Muhlstein

Fri 11/14, 5-7pm:
SALON - Proustfest! Celebrating the 95th anniversary of the publication of Proust's Swann's Way, first in his series In Search of Lost Time. Part 1: Literary historian Anka Muhlstein on Proust and His Publishers. Full publication (7 books in 15 volumes) of Proust's epic took 15 years; he did not live to see completion. Publication was interrupted by WWI and complicated by constant textual reworkings plus the author's illness, failing eyesight, and impossible schedule - he slept all day, worked at night. At his death, with 6 volumes to go and no reliable manuscript available, things looked dire. But miracles happen - the novel got published in full and the publisher did not go mad. Free and open to the public! (Sponsor: Kas DeCarvalho Business Law,

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Legendary Pub Quiz!

Fri 11/7, 7:30pm: The Legendary Pub Quiz! Call 421-6970 to reserve a spot. $5 for Athenaeum members; $10 for non-members.

Paul Polak

Fri 11/7, 5-7pm:
SALON - Paul Polak on his book Out of Poverty. For 25 years Polak has helped poor farmers develop practical ways to increase their income, moving 17 million people out of poverty. In 2006 his organization received $14 million from the Gates Foundation. How does he succeed when mainstream poverty programs consistently fail? More: Books for sale and signing thanks to Borders!

For Athenaeum members and their guests. (Sponsor: Kas DeCarvalho Business Law,

Read about Paul Polak's business theories in the NYTimes from Nov 1:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rick Ring

Thurs 11/6, 7pm:
Series: The Once and Future Library, part 2: "To Promote the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge": The Formation of the Providence Public Library as an Ark of the Arts and Sciences in Providence. Rick Ring, Special Collections Librarian of the Providence Public Library, revisits the creation of the PPL from its first glimmers in the 1870s by a group of cultural institutions, to the construction of the Italian Renaissance revival-style building in 1900.

Free and open to the public! (Series Sponsor: Dan Siegel, M&S Rare Books,

Friday, October 31, 2008

Rick Ring and Phoebe Simpson

Fri, 10/31, 5-7pm:
SALON - Series: The Once and Future Library, part 1: Reading Providence. Rick Ring, Special Collections Librarian of the Providence Public Library, and Phoebe Simpson, Printed Collection Librarian at the RI Historical Society Library, explore the changing landscape of the major private book collections and the city's libraries (including the Providence Athenaeum [1838]; its ancestor, the Providence Library Company [1753]; and the library of the RI Historical Society [1824]) from the mid-17th century to the 1878 formation of the Providence Public Library, our first free public library. Join us for a conversation about how the growth of the city was reflected in the growth of its library community and vice versa.

For Athenaeum members and their guests.
(Series Sponsor: Dan Siegel, M&S Rare Books,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Senator Lincoln Chafee and Ted Widmer

Tues, 10/14/2008, 7pm:
Election Day Approaches: What's Next? In an increasingly global world fraught with conflicts past, present, and promised, what is the future for US foreign policy? As the 2008 presidential campaign (aka The Hundred Years' War) closes, what is America's place in the world? What should it be? Come converse with two contrarian witnesses to history, former Senator Lincoln Chafee (now distinguished visiting fellow at Brown's Watson Institute), a liberal conservative, and Ted Widmer, former foreign policy speechwriter for Bill Clinton, now Director of the John Carter Brown Library, a conservative liberal. Copies of Senator Chafee's Against the Tide: How a Compliant Congress Empowered a Reckless President and Ted Widmer's Ark of the Liberties: America and the World will be available for sale and signing, thanks to Borders!

Free and open to the public.
(Sponsor: Yankee Travel,

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jesse Holstein

Fri, 10/10/2008, 5-7pm:
SALON - Providence String Quartet violinist Jesse Holstein on Dmitry Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten, featured composers in PSQ’s spring series at the Athenaeum. Great admirers of one another’s music, Shostakovich and Britten stand as two giants of 20th century music. Britten’s 2nd quartet, written in 1945 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of composer Henry Purcell’s death, concludes with an immense baroque chaconne as a direct tribute. Shostakovich dedicated his powerful 8th quartet, “In memory of victims of fascism and war.” In the Dresden summer of 1960, writing the score for a film on WWII, Shostakovich, emotionally overcome by his subject matter and the city’s bombed-out condition, composed his pseudo-autobiographical quartet in a mere three days. Spring series dates: 2/19 (Shostakovich), 5/14 (Britten); buy your tickets at the Salon! For Athenaeum members and their guests. (Sponsor: The Curatorium,

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

Janet Carlson

Fri, 10/3/2008, 5-7pm:

SALON - Janet Carlson on her new memoir, Quick, Before the Music Stops: How Ballroom Dancing Saved My Life.

A competitive ballroom dancer in her twenties, Carlson quit to raise a family and pursue a high-powered editing career. Twenty years later she "had it all" but was lost at heart. Then her husband gave her a gift of ballroom lessons, and in one spin around the floor she found her footing again. Her return to the ballroom let her end an unhappy marriage, put her heart back into work, find time for her children, and rediscover a sense of balance and grace. Join us for a conversation about the dance of life. Books available for sale and signing thanks to Borders!
For Athenaeum members and their guests. (Sponsor: Jillian Siqueland of Residential Properties, 401-274-6740)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nancy Austin and Caroline Woolard

Fri, 9/26/2008, 5-7pm:
SALON - Historian Nancy Austin and artist Caroline Woolard update us on Albert J. Jones, forgotten founder of the RISD Museum of Art (RI's very first), in a preview of their 9/27 installation/performance about Jones (part of Cryptic Providence, an art/program series at North Burial Ground), and explain why RI almost didn't get the Museum (opening its new Chace Center on 9/27).

As a prequel to the Athenaeum's new program series, The Once and Future Library, Austin discusses the primacy of print over visual culture in 19th century Providence. Jones came of age in a city abrim with books and periodicals, joined the Athenaeum, and left for Europe with a notable personal library. Print culture lured future RISD founder Helen Rowe (Metcalf) to Providence, where with her brothers she opened a bookstore, established a global periodicals market, and wrote and published a widely circulated newspaper. Join us to talk about books, art, libraries, and museums, from the 19th century to now.

For Athenaeum members and their guests. (Sponsor: risdworks,

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dr. Warren Simmons

Tues, 9/23, 6:30-8:30pm:
The Athenaeum hosts The Covenant with Black America: Education, with Dr. Warren Simmons, Executive Director, Annenberg School for Education Reform, Brown University; moderated by Mary Sylvia Harrison, Vice President of Programs, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. How do the disparate educational opportunities within Providence’s diverse population affect the quality of life and prosperity in the city? Join us for a conversation on how to address the disparities between Black America and White America. The Covenant with Black America is a program series based on Tavis Smiley’s bestselling essay collection, The Covenant, outlining key life issues and providing lists of resources to help people improve their lives. It is funded by the RI Council for the Humanities, presented by Anne Edmonds Clanton; more info: 401-258-1910. Free and open to the public! (Sponsor: Benefit Street Antiques, 140 Wickenden Street, 401-751-9109)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Providence Athenaeum! and All Hail, Athena!

Friday, July 11th 2008 7pm

An Olympian celebration of the Athenaeum's 170th birthday at 251 Benefit Street, Providence Rhode Island!

Poet Brett Rutherford, along with other votaries, will present a lyrical introduction and tribute in poetry and music to our patron goddess, Athena, as we prepare to install our new bust of her in the library. Come help us welcome the goddess of wisdom to her spiritual and intellectual home!

Nectar and ambrosia - or earthly equivalents - will be served.

The event is free and open to the public, befitting these words spoken by Francis Wayland at the dedication of the Athenaeum on July 11, 1838:

"Let us all cheerfully unite, fellow-citizens, in every reasonable effort to elevate the standard of social and intellectual character among us… Let us abandon, forever, and forget that they ever existed, all local and petty distinctions. Let us not labor for the east side or for the west side, but for the city of Providence ."

He then added the following:

"In every useful and public-spirited object , let every hand beat time, all our hearts be in unison; and if money be needed to accomplish it, let our wealth flow out like water."

Which is just to say that gifts of tribute, while not expected, will neither be refused!


Poetry by Brett Rutherford

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Aurea Ensemble presents From the Bard to the Beats

The Aurea Ensemble presents From the Bard to the Beats, an evening of poetry, improvisation, and chamber music connecting the inspirational threads of David Amram, celebrated American composer, jazz musician, writer, educator, and first composer-in-residence for the NY Philharmonic. Amram, closely identified with Kerouac and the Beat poets of the ‘50s and ‘60s, was also honored recently at Lincoln Center for his early musical collaborations with Joseph Papp’s first Shakespearean productions at NYC’s Public Theatre. Author of 3 books, at 77 he is one of the most highly sought-after American composers. From April 14 – 20 a week-long celebration of Amram’s work will take place during his Fitts Residency at Brown, with Aurea as participants. Join Aurea members Consuelo Sherba, Nigel Gore, and Chris Turner for this sneak preview of the events, plus a look into the working process of Aurea and their inimitable, intuitive, and inventive combining of words and music.

For Athenaeum members and their guests.
Sponsor: Antiques & Interiors

Consuelo Sherba and Chris Turner

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Wee Dram of Scotland

A Birthday Celebration of Robert Burns. Brighten the long winter with an evening of light, warmth, music, poetry, spirits, camaraderie, and a rare glimpse at some rare editions of Burns. Join us for readings by actors Thomas McDonald Oakes and Alyn Carlson, Scottish folk music by Cathy Clasper-Torch and Mike Fischman, a tasting and discussion of single malt Scotches thanks to Campus Fine Wines, and a display of the finest items from the Athenaeum's rarely exhibited Burns Collection, consisting of over 450 volumes of Burns's works from the 18th and 19th centuries, assembled by Athenaeum member Charles Bradley during his 19th century lifetime and donated by his widow in 1924. Thanks to Sally Strachan for envisioning this program and bringing it to life!

Cathy Clasper-Torch and Mike Fischman

Alyn Carlson

Thomas McDonald Oakes