Cotsen Textile Traces Talk: From Smuggled Silkworms to Silk Empire

The George Washington University’s Byzantine Studies Club, hosted by the Cotsen Center at the Textile Museum, invites you to join them for Silk in Byzantium. Lead researcher Jenny Lowery ‘24 and several other Byzantine Studies Club students have assembled a micro exhibit telling the story of silk in Byzantium, the first such undergraduate exhibit at the Textile Museum. This talk will explore the origins of the native Byzantine silk trade from its covert beginnings to its influence on the greater luxuries market in Constantinople and beyond.

Join online or in person Thursday May 2 at 1pm EDT, registering for either option at this link:

Exhibit announcement: “Spirituality in Eastern Christianity: Images of a Living Tradition”

Exhibit announcement: “Spirituality in Eastern Christianity: Images of a Living Tradition,” photographs by Alain de Lotbinière opens at Museum of Russian Icons on September 22.

203 Union Street, Clinton, MA 01510 |
Nina Berger, Public Relations | | 617.543.1595



Museum of Russian Icons presents Spirituality in Eastern Christianity: Images of a Living Tradition, an exhibition of photographs by Alain de Lotbinière

September 22, 2023—January 21, 2024

CLINTON, MA––The Museum of Russian Icons presents Spirituality in Eastern Christianity: Images of a Living Tradition, an exhibition of photographs by Alain de Lotbinière, September 22, 2023–January 21, 2024. The 26 images that compose this exhibition were taken during the course of several trips to Northern Macedonia, Serbia and Russia, as well as during visits to sites in Turkey and Egypt.

The history of the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Churches trace their roots to the very earliest days of Christianity, such that by the fourth century CE it had taken root not only within the Roman and Byzantine Empires, but also in countries that today include Syria, Iraq, Iran, India, Egypt and Ethiopia. The much later schism of 1054 CE that resulted in the separation of the Eastern and Western Catholic faiths, also resulted in fundamentally different expressions of spirituality as defined by their respective churches. Whereas in the Western Christian tradition it is taught that the way to know God is mainly through the word of the Bible and the light of human reason, the Eastern approach is decidedly experiential, the image of God being contained in the “Nous”, or heart, of a person’s being. Eastern Christian spiritual traditions teach that it is through the experience of the Holy Mysteries that a direct knowledge of God is possible, the emphasis in the West being on faith and intellectual reasoning.

“For those of us educated in the Western traditions of humanism and intellectual reasoning, it may be difficult to comprehend the Orthodox traditions when it comes to their reverence for icons, examples of which adorn this museum,” states de Lotbinière. “For the Orthodox believers, icons are not images that are worshipped in the traditional sense of the word, but rather images that are venerated, being seen as windows to the spiritual realm. This reverence is witnessed whenever we step into an Orthodox church, as hopefully some of these images succeed in conveying.”

The majority of the images were taken with Leica monochrome digital cameras, cameras in which the color filter array present in all other digital cameras is removed, thereby allowing more light, and consequently more detail, to be registered on the sensor. A distinct advantage in monochrome digital cameras is their ability to extract detail in very low light conditions, such as those present inside churches or monasteries. Another important advantage in using Leica monochrome digital cameras is their compact and noiseless design, lending themselves superbly to discreet photography in sensitive locations.  Digital Silver Imaging photo lab printed and mounted the photographs.


Alain C.J. de Lotbinière is a practicing neurosurgeon who lives in Connecticut, USA. The son of a Canadian diplomat, his early education was formed in several European countries: Holland, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, before returning to Canada to complete his medical training in the field of neurosurgery. Photography runs deep in the family; his father having given him his first camera on his fourteenth birthday. His GGG grandfather, Pierre Gustave Joly de Lotbinière, acquired one of the first daguerreotype cameras from the Parisian optician, Noël Paymal Lerebours, and set off to the Middle East in 1839 to make photographic records of the ancient monuments in Greece, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, several of which were published in 1842 as lithographs in Excursions Daguerriennes. Having just published a book based on his travels through medieval parts of Russia, de Lotbinère is currently working on a book focused on 19th-century travel to Egypt and its monuments.

Artist’s statement 

“My interest in photography began early in my life as a way to document the many countries I visited as a child. Over the years it has grown into something of an obsession, a need to touch and at the same time be touched by the impressions that surround me. To be sensitive to what the fleeting moment can bring, to receive an image and be able to capture its essence. To be still in an ever-changing world of shadows and light, this is the special challenge that photography holds for me,” says de Lotbinère.


The Museum of Russian Icons, founded in 2006 by the American entrepreneur Gordon Lankton, holds the most comprehensive collection of Russian icons in the US, as well as a growing collection of Greek, Veneto-Cretan, and Ethiopian icons. Spanning over six centuries, the collection showcases the development of the icon from its Egyptian and Byzantine roots and explores the spread of Orthodoxy across cultures. The Museum serves as a place for contemplation and for experiencing the beauty and spirituality of icons. The permanent collection and temporary exhibitions offer unparalleled opportunities to situate Eastern Christian art within a global context and to explore its connection to contemporary concerns and ideas. The Museum’s Study Center stimulates object-based learning and multidisciplinary research and aims to share its research in the field of Eastern Christian art with wide audiences through an active slate of academic and public programs.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10am-4pm. Closed Monday–Wednesday.

Admission: Adults $12, seniors (59+) $10, Students $5, Children (13-17) $5, Children under 13 Free.

Follow the Museum of Russian Icons on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Visit the website,, home of the online collection (including research papers on individual icons), a virtual tour of the Museum, the Journal of Icon Studies, and the British Museum’s Catalogue of Byzantine and Greek Icons.



Upcoming Exhibition at The Met: Africa & Byzantium

Africa & Byzantium (opening November 19) will be a major exhibition of nearly 180 works that explores the tradition of Byzantine art and culture in Africa from the 4th through the 15th century and beyond. It will feature many international loans being exhibited in the United States for the first time, as well as dynamic, contemporary works that bring the complexities of the past into the present.

Art history has long emphasized the glories of the Byzantine Empire (ca. 330–1453), but less known are the profound artistic contributions of North Africa, Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, and other powerful African kingdoms whose pivotal interactions with Byzantium had a lasting impact on the Mediterranean world. Bringing together a range of masterworks—from mosaic, sculpture, pottery, and metalwork to luxury objects, paintings, and religious manuscripts—this exhibition recounts Africa’s central role in international networks of trade and cultural exchange.

With artworks rarely or never before seen in public, this long-overdue exhibition sheds new light on the staggering artistic achievements of medieval Africa and offers a more complete history of how the vibrant, multiethnic societies of north and east Africa shaped the artistic, economic, and cultural life of Byzantium and beyond.

This interdisciplinary exhibition will be of particular interest to faculty and students in Byzantine, African, and medieval studies; art and art history; theology and religion; classics; archaeology; and other related fields.

For more details, please see The Met’s exhibition webpage and the exhibition catalogue (now available for pre-order).

To make a reservation for a group visit, please see

Museum of Russian Icons receives $75,000 grant from Mass Cultural Council

Museum of Russian Icons receives $75,000 grant from Mass Cultural Council, part of historic $51M investment in the cultural sector.

CLINTON, MA––The Museum of Russian Icons has received a grant of $75,000 from the Mass Cultural Council (MCC), a state agency. The unrestricted funds are the maximum allowed through the Council’s Cultural Sector Pandemic Recovery Grants for Organizations Program.

“Covid brought with it many unforeseen challenges, particularly for smaller museums like ours.  This significant grant will help us continue our recovery,” said Simon Morsink, Executive Director of the Museum of Russian Icons. “We are grateful to the Mass Cultural Council and the many advocates who fight so hard to secure critical funding for the cultural sector.”

The Recovery Grant Program is part of MCC’s historic $51 million public investment into the Commonwealth’s creative and cultural sector to organizations impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the largest grant announcement the Mass Cultural Council has ever made.

“This historic investment of state Covid relief funds will support 1000s of cultural organizations and creative individuals living and working in Massachusetts,” commented State Senator John J. Cronin. “This new funding reinforces our commitment to assisting artists and cultural groups that suffered from closures during the pandemic. The money will go a long way to helping the Commonwealth’s creative and cultural sectors rebound.”

In December 2021 a $4 billion pandemic recovery package was approved by the Legislature and signed into law. This Act, Ch. 102 of 2021, directed Mass Cultural Council to develop and administer grant programs to assist cultural organizations and artists recover from the pandemic and operate more efficiently moving forward. Mass Cultural Council received $60.1 million in surplus state revenue funds to support this effort. These unrestricted funds will provide critical support to offset significant losses incurred from necessary suspension of the Museum of Russian Icon’s activities during the height of the pandemic.

“The Museum of Russian Icons is a critical part of Clinton’s cultural fabric, and I’m proud to be an advocate for its efforts,” said State Senator Meghan Kilcoyne.

This grant signifies that the Museum of Russian Icons provides meaningful public value through its programs and services. Located in Clinton, Massachusetts, the Museum houses and exhibits one of the Western world’s largest collections of icons—sacred paintings used for veneration in the Orthodox Christian tradition–along with religious artifacts, and Slavic folk arts. It illustrates the evolution over six centuries of the icon from its early Egyptian and Byzantine origins to the establishment of its own tradition. Founded in 2006 as a nonprofit educational institution by Massachusetts art collector and industrialist Gordon B. Lankton, the Museum’s exhibitions, lectures, workshops, symposia, concerts, and guided tours offer a unique cultural experience.

he Recovery Grants offer unrestricted grants, ranging from $5,000 to $75,000 to Massachusetts cultural organizations, collectives, and businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cultural Council received 1,359 applications to the program, of which 1,218 were approved.


Mass Cultural Council has an annual budget of $15.7 million, including an appropriation of nearly $14 million from the state of Massachusetts and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. The agency also runs the Mass Cultural Facilities Fund in partnership with Mass Development. Mass Cultural Council funds reach every community in the Commonwealth. Its mission is to promote excellence, education, access and diversity in the arts, humanities and sciences, to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the vitality of our communities and economy.


Icons & Retablos: Images of Devotion, March 2—August 27, 2023

Created in collaboration with New Mexico State University, this bilingual exhibition explores the beauty and spirituality of Orthodox icons and Mexican retablos, devotional works of art which convey artistically similar themes utilizing different materials, styles, and iconographies.


The Museum of Russian Icons preserves and exhibits one of the world’s largest collections of Orthodox Christian icons, bronze crosses, and Slavic folk arts. Spanning over six centuries, the collection showcases the development of the Russian icon from its Egyptian and Byzantine roots and explores the spread of Orthodoxy across cultures.

The Museum serves as a leading center for research and scholarship through the Center for Icon Studies and other institutional collaborations. It is the only Museum in the US dedicated to Russian icons, and the largest collection of icons outside of Russia.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10am-4pm. Closed Monday–Wednesday.

Admission: Adults $12, seniors (59+) $10, Students $5, Children (13-17) $5, Children under 13 Free.

Follow the Museum of Russian Icons on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Visit the website,, home of the online collection (including research papers on individual icons), a virtual tour of the Museum, the Journal of Icon Studies, and the British Museum’s Catalogue of Byzantine and Greek Icons.

The Museum of Russian Icons vehemently condemns the military aggression on the sovereign country of Ukraine. We stand with the courageous citizens of Ukraine and Russia who oppose this senseless act of war.

Bringing the Holy Land Home

Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece (Jan. 26 – April 6, 2023)
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, Prior Performing Arts Center, the College of the Holy Cross, 1 College St., Worcester, MA

“Bringing the Holy Land Home” explores the impact of art objects manufactured in the eastern Mediterranean on the visual culture of medieval England and western Europe. At its center are an iconic set of mold-made tiles, discovered at Chertsey Abbey outside of London, but probably commissioned for London’s Westminster Palace around 1250. These include a famous pair of roundels showing the English king Richard the Lionheart and the Ayyubid sultan Saladin (Salah al-Din) in combat. Excavated from the ruined site of Chertsey Abbey in the 19th century, the original composition of the fragmented tiles has been reconstructed, including their lost Latin texts. The reconstruction has demonstrated not only that the entire mosaic addressed the theme of the crusades, but also that its design evoked that of imported Byzantine and Islamic silks.

Carried home by crusaders, Byzantine and Islamic silks as well as ceramics, metalwork and other items were highly valued by European audiences, who incorporated them into sacred objects, displayed them in places of esteem, and imitated their designs – as was the case with the Chertsey tiles. The composition of the Chertsey floor relies on visual traditions of textiles developed by Muslim and Orthodox Christian artists in the eastern Mediterranean, even while the iconography attends to the theme of English victory over foreign opponents. By pairing the Chertsey tiles with contemporaneous European and eastern Mediterranean objects, this exhibition endeavors to illuminate the specific and complex contexts that informed the tiles’ production and design.

Along with the Chertsey tiles, on loan from the British Museum, this exhibition also displays the Morgan Library’s Crusader Bible and medieval objects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Worcester art Museum, Dumbarton Oaks, and Harvard Art Museums.

Exhibition website at

Exhibition catalogue with contributions from Michael Wood (OBE), Andrea Achi, Paroma Chatterjee, Meredith Fluke, Eurydice Georganteli, Sean Gilsdorf, Sarah Guerin, Cynthia Hahn, Eva R. Hoffman, Richard A. Leson, A. L. McClanan, Nina Masin-Moyer ’22, Grace P. Morrissey ’22, Suleiman Mourad, David Nicolle, Scott Redford, Euan Roger, Alicia Walker, and Elizabeth Dospel Williams, available at

Thurs. Jan 26, Opening Lecture & Reception
Thurs. Jan 26, 4pm, Rehm Library
Dr. William Purkis, “Bringing the Holy Land Home: Crusaders, Relics, and the Transformation of Latin Christendom’s Sacred Material World.” Dr. Purkis is Head of School of History and Cultures at the University of Birmingham.
5:30pm, Opening Reception, Cantor Gallery
Sat. March 25, 8:30am-7pm, “Bringing the Holy Land Home” conference, held in association with the NEMC (New England Medieval Consortium) 

Registration details will be posted at in the coming weeks.

Lloyd de Beer, the British Museum
Paroma Chatterjee, University of Michigan
Paul Cobb, University of Pennsylvania
Matthew Gabriele, Virginia Tech
Sarah Guerin, University of Pennsylvania
Cynthia Hahn, Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York
Eva Hoffman, Tufts University
Richard Leson, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Amanda Luyster, College of the Holy Cross
Suleiman Mourad, Smith College
Nicholas Paul, Fordham University
Matthew Reeve, Queen’s University
Euan Roger, National Archives, Kew
Naomi Speakman, the British Museum
Elizabeth Williams, Dumbarton Oaks

Finally, if you would like to bring a group to visit the show on any date that the gallery is open (M-F 10 a.m. – 5 pm | Sat noon – 5 pm, Jan. 26-April 6), just email me to make arrangements.  Admission and parking are free.

Mount Athos Foundation of America Celebratory Exhibition Opening

On behalf of the Mount Athos Foundation of America (MAFA), and in collaboration with the Mount Athos Center (Agioreitiki Estia) of Thessaloniki, I am pleased to personally invite members of BSANA to a Celebratory Inauguration at the Maliotis Center on the campus of Hellenic College/Holy Cross in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Tuesday September 13, 2022 from 2:00 pm to approximately 8:30 pm

This event will kick off a 2-months-long exhibition – Mount Athos: The Ark of Orthodoxy.  This exhibition is intended to evoke the sense of a virtual pilgrimage to the Athonite monasteries (for more information, please click The theme of the celebratory opening events is Reflections of Days on Mount Athos. The agenda is outlined below.


Please let me know (by responding to the email address below my signature) if you will be able to join us for all or part of the event, including whether you will join us for dinner. Please respond promptly if you wish to attend the banquet since seating is limited.


Robert W. Allison, president

The Mount Athos Foundation of America (affirmative RSVPs only)


· Afternoon Program begins at 2:00 pm convened by Robert W. Allison, president of the Mount Athos Foundation of America

· 2:10.          Welcome by Archbishop Elpidophoros with opening prayer

· 2:30.          Greeting from Anastasios Ntouros – Director, Mount Athos Center (Thessaloniki)

· 2:45-3:10.   PRESENTATION by Fr. Loukas of Xenophontos Monastery, Mount Athos, representing the Holy Community

· 3:15-3:30.   PRESENTATION by Anna Merkel (mother of an Athonite Monk)

· 3:30-5:00.   Viewing of the Exhibition and Socializing

· 5:00-7:00.   Vespers in the Holy Cross Chapel followed by pre-banquet socializing and viewing of the Exhibition

· Evening Program begins at 7:00 pm

· 7:00-7:45.   Banquet – Accompanied by showing of a recently discovered 1929 Athos Documentary Film (20+ minutes, played during the meal). Alice Sullivan (Tufts University) will introduce the film

· 7:30-8:30.   PRESENTATION by Julia Gearhart and Maria Alessia Rossi (both of Princeton University) & Alice Sullivan (Tufts University) about the Film, panel discussion and Q & A facilitated by Alice Sullivan

Greek Manuscripts at the University of Michigan Library: A Celebration

A New Exhibit: Greek Manuscripts at the University of Michigan Library: A Celebration
Splendors of the religious and artistic endeavors of Byzantine manuscript makers are on display from the Greek manuscript collection at the University of Michigan Library (Special Collections Research Center). We warmly invite you to explore these extraordinary treasures at the Audubon Room, North Hatcher Library, March 26-June 28, 2022.

The University of Michigan Library holds an extensive collection of Greek manuscripts consisting of 110 codices (bound manuscripts) and fragments that range from the fourth to the nineteenth centuries CE. It is the largest such collection in the Western Hemisphere. As explained in the exhibit, most of these manuscripts were purchased through the efforts of Professor Francis Willey Kelsey in the second decade of the previous century.

Our exhibit displays highlights from these holdings, offering insights into the religious and artistic endeavors involved in the making, use, and dissemination of Byzantine codices. In brief, these unique manuscripts are eloquent witnesses of a period of achievements in the areas of textual transmission, calligraphy, illumination, and bookbinding. Most of the Greek manuscripts in our collection were used for various religious services in churches and monasteries. Others were probably destined for private devotion, such as the pocket-size, richly illuminated manuscripts carrying the Gospels. While many of our manuscripts indeed contain the text of the New Testament in various forms, others include religious works from the fourth century onward, written by venerated scholars who gradually shaped the theological foundations of the Christian faith throughout the centuries.

Catalogue of Greek Manuscripts at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Vol. 1., by Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2021)

Tradition and Individuality: Bindings from the University of Michigan Greek Manuscript Collection by Julia Miller (Ann Arbor: The Legacy Press, 2021)

When: March 26-June 28, 2022.

Where: Audubon Room, Hatcher Library North

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