Exhibition, symposium examine Renaissance coins, Nov. 9

The role that the study of ancient coins played in Renaissance culture will be examined in an exhibition opening in Firestone Library on Friday, Nov. 9, and a related symposium that day.

The exhibition of rare books, coins, medals and manuscripts from the University Library's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is titled  "Numismatics in the Renaissance" and will be on view in the main gallery of Firestone. It will feature artifacts from the University Numismatic Collection, including coins and medals of the Renaissance and the ancient Greek and Roman coins that inspired them. Also on display will be 15th- and 16th-century books about ancient coins, drawings from the collections of the University Art Museum and works of Renaissance literature that are rich in coin imagery.

The opening will be marked with a symposium, "The Rebirth of Antiquity: Numismatics, Archaeology and Classical Studies in the Culture of the Renaissance," beginning at 9 a.m. in 101 McCormick Hall. Symposium panels will feature art and history scholars from several institutions and will be led by Princeton scholars Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, the Marquand Professor of Art and Archaeology, and Anthony Grafton, the Henry Putnam University Professor of History. A full schedule is available at www.princeton.edu/rbsc/department/numismatics/symposium.html.

A reception for the exhibition opening will follow the symposium at 4:30 p.m. in Firestone.

"Although ancient coins were found throughout the Mediterranean region in the millennium following the end of the Roman Empire, it was only in Renaissance Europe that they began to be studied systematically," said Alan Stahl, curator of the University Numismatic Collection.

Stahl said the University's collection has fine examples of some of the earliest printed books to carry engraved illustrations, which feature detailed reproductions of ancient coinage. Highlights of the exhibition include a drawing by Italian painter Parmigianino with an image of the goddess Minerva thought to be derived from an image on Roman coins and a map of ancient Rome made in 1561 by Italian artist Pirro Ligorio.

The show will run until Sunday, July 20. The library gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Exhibition tours will be offered to the public at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, March 16 and June 1.

The exhibition and symposium are free and open to the public, but individuals must pre-register for symposium by contacting Stahl at (609) 258-9127 or astahl@princeton.edu.

The symposium is sponsored by the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, the Council of the Humanities, the Center for the Study of Books and Media, the Department of Art and Archaeology, the Department of Classics, the Program in Hellenic Studies, the Committee for Renaissance Studies and the Davis Center for Historical Studies. The Friends of the Princeton University Library will host the reception at the exhibition opening.