Passports: Lives in Transit

April 30 – August 18, Edison and Newman Room

This exhibition conceives of passports as the ruins of a modern dream now in terminal crisis – the dream of a globalized world. Drawing on the collections of Harvard Library, Passports: Lives in Transit addresses this major contemporary issue through the lens of passports, visa applications, and other documents associated with noteworthy nineteenth- and twentieth-century travelers, émigrés and refugees. Also on view, items of personal significance to a Harvard student telling a story of Latino immigration to the U.S., as well as a site-specific multimedia art installation of used passports purchased on e-commerce sites, further underscore the exhibition’s engagement with current geopolitics and activism. This exhibition was co-curated by Rodrigo del Rio and Lucas Mertehikian, both doctoral students in Harvard University’s Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Co-sponsored by Houghton Library and Harvard University’s Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.    

Balanchine at Home and Abroad: Ballet as Cold War Cultural Exchange

May 1 – Sept 1, Amy Lowell Room

Revered as the “father of American ballet,” George Balanchine (1904-1983) emigrated from the newly formed Soviet Union via Western Europe to the United States, where he founded the New York City Ballet and lived until his death. Drawing on Houghton Library’s George Balanchine Archive, “Balanchine at Home and Abroad” highlights the most vibrant and exciting souvenir programs from performances by Balanchine’s New York City Ballet in the Soviet Union, and the Bolshoi and Kirov Ballets’ visits to the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s. It also examines Balanchine’s return to the Soviet Union almost forty years after his emigration, underscoring the significance of his Russian-Georgian-Soviet heritage his role of American Cold War cultural ambassador. This exhibition was guest curated by Megan Race, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Yale University, and Houghton Library Visiting Fellow/Howard D. Rothschild Fellowship in Dance 2017-2018.  

Pots as Post-Its: Daily Life Captured on Ancient Egyptian Ostraca

May 1 – Sept 6, Chaucer Case

Ostraca (singular: ostracon) are pieces of broken pottery or limestone flakes used to record writing in ancient Egypt. Much cheaper than papyrus, they were used as abundantly as our modern day Post-it note. This exhibition highlights Houghton Library’s collection of ostraca discovered on the island of Elephantine in southern Egypt, including receipts, records of goods, taxes, and personal letters written in Demotic, Coptic and Greek. These “ancient Post-its” not only preserve information about daily life on Elephantine, but also show us the island’s uniqueness as a multicultural society. This exhibition was guest curated by Andréa Martinez, Julia Puglisi and Hilo Sugita, all students in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, together with and under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Verena Lepper, Principal Investigator of the ERC-Starting Grant Project ELEPHANTINE, and Curator for Egyptian and Oriental Papyri at the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, and Houghton Library Visiting Fellow/Joan Nordell Fellow 2017-2018.

© 2017 The President and Fellows of Harvard College