American Ancestors | Bagatelle: A Princely Residence in Paris

Earlier today — Friday, September 29, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. — I attended the webinar Bagatelle: A Princely Residence in Paris by Nicolas Cattelain , part of the Art & Architecture series hosted by New England Historic Genealogical Society, also known as American Ancestors . Cattelain wrote a book by the same name as the talk, published by Rizzoli New York Last Week , which features photographs of the chateau in the process of its restoration. Cattelain covered the entire history of the property using images of artworks once held in the Bagatelle, diagrams of the buildings and gardens, portraits of past owners, and modern photographs. Cattelain explained that a building had existed on the site since 1720 and was first owned by Maréchal d'Estrées [Marshal of Estrées]. While his wife, Madame d'Estrées , held wild parties at the estate, the Maréchal d'Estrées did not often visit. At this time Louis XV was King of France. Parties at court politically influenced h

Museo de Arte Moderno de la República Dominicana

During my trip to the Dominican Republic in June 2023, I spent several days in the capital, Santo Domingo . I visited many museums, the first of which was Museo de Arte Moderno de la República Dominicana (MAM) [Museum of Modern Art of the Dominican Republic]. Plaza de la Cultura Juan Pablo Duarte , where the museum was located, reminded me of the relationship between the  National Mall in Washington, D.C.  and the  Smithsonian . This incredible mid-sized museum holds artworks both from the country and around the world. Dominican architect José Miniño completed construction of the Brutalist style building in 1976. The museum has been a part of Ministerio de Cultura [Ministry of Culture] since 2000.

Skyscraper Museum | AT&T Building

Early tonight — Tuesday, September 26, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. — I watched the latest webinar hosted by the Skyscraper Museum , AT&T Building: Philip Johnson and the Postmodern Skyscraper . Previous webinars hosted by Skyscraper Museum and appear on this blog were The Great American Transit Disaster , CBS Headquarters , and Australia Square . The talk was led by Alan Ritchie and Scott Johnson (no relation to Philip Johnson ), both of whom worked on the AT&T project. Ritchie was picked by Philip Johnson soon after arriving in New York City from England as a young designer, while Scott Johnson went to New York City to be hired by Johnson after seeing preliminary drawings for the AT&T building on the front page of The New York Times . Scott Johnson began the talk by describing other buildings designed by Philip Johnson. For real estate investment company Hines Interests , he designed the “Lipstick Building” at 885 Third Avenue in New York City, which opened in 1986. H

Culturally Curious: Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, & Abstract Expressionism

On Thursday, September 21, 2023 at 7:00 p.m., I watched the webinar Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, & Abstract Expressionism lead by Jane Oneail of Culturally Curious . I have previously watched three talks by Oneail: Revolutionary Design: Modern Architecture in New England in May 2023, George Tooker: Modern Life & Magical Realism in June 2023, and Seaside Escapes: The Art & Architecture of the New England Coast in August 2023. Just like for the past two talks, the event was sponsored by the Greater Manchester Integrated Library Cooperative or GMILCS , which describes itself as “a nonprofit consortium of public and academic libraries in New Hampshire”.

Quick History Stops: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

In June 2023, I made several quick history stops around Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Earlier that day I had visited the Dominican Amber Experience Museum , Casa Museo General Gregorio Luperón , and Fortaleza San Felipe . As a major port with frequent visits from cruise ships, the city blends historic sites with kitschy tourist traps. In the center of the city was aptly named Parque Central Independencia . A little square next to Catedral de San Felipe Apóstol , the park contains statues of Luperón and Juan Pablo Duarte , the founding father of the Dominican. A nearby sign contains a poem about the patriotism of Duarte. In the middle of the park was a two story grandstand not regularly open to the public. As for the cathedral, the current structure was built in 1870. The original wooden building burned down during the Restoration in 1863. The cathedral has undergone a pair of renovations since then. The first took place from 1929, halted during the 1946 Dominican

Fortaleza de San Felipe

In June 2023, I visited Fortaleza de San Felipe (Saint Philip Fort), a restored 16 th century fort in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic named in honor of Philip the Apostle . Earlier that day, I had visited the Dominican Amber Museum Experience and Casa Museo General Gregorio Luperón , just over 900 m (0.5 miles) away. Provided with an English-language audio guide, I learned the full history of the fort and surrounding area. Before entering the fort, I stopped to see the pair of statues honoring two important men in the history of the Caribbean. Atop a pedestal, General Gregorio Luperón sat astride his rearing war horse and wore his signature hat. Nearby was a green, copper bust of Antonio Maceo y Grajales  with a voluminous mustache. He lived from 1845 to 1896 and served as a military leader during the Ten Years War in Cuba and War of Independence in Cuba. Once inside the fort, visitors freely roamed the pathways marked by guardrails. T

Casa Museo General Gregorio Luperón

In June 2023, I visited Casa Museo General Gregorio Luperón (House Museum of General Gregorio Luperón) in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Earlier that day, I had visited the Dominican Amber Museum Experience just over a quarter mile (275 m) away. The museum is both the birthplace and deathplace of Gregorio Luperón . The exterior of the house is a beautiful seagreen, and the interior of the house is renovated to display exhibits and artifacts.

American Ancestors | An Introduction to Heraldry for Genealogists

Early today — Thursday, September 14, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. — I watched the virtual presentation An Introduction to Heraldry for Genealogists . While I have expertise in many areas of history, I knew almost nothing about heraldry until this quick and enlightening overview hosted by American Ancestors . Dr. Nathaniel Lane Taylor , a former Harvard University professor of Medieval Studies , lead the informative talk. Ginevra Morse , Vice President for Education & Programming at New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), moderated the Q&A. In addition to giving lectures, Dr. Taylor is an editor and publisher of  The American Genealogist journal, a fellow of similarly named The American Society of Genealogists , and part of the Committee on Heraldry at NEHGS . Dr. Taylor explained that over twenty European countries have a heraldic tradition, but he focused on the traditions of Great Britain, especially England. Heraldry is a “representational unit of identity” ov

Dominican Amber Museum Experience

Back in June 2023, I visited the Dominican Amber Museum Experience in Puerto Plata, a coastal town in the Dominican Republic about an hour north from the city of Santiago de los Caballeros. This is not to be confused with the Amber World Museum located in the capital, Santo Domingo. With some of the best branding I have seen from a small organization, the Amber Museum proudly (and legally!) uses a logo similar to Jurassic Park thanks to a savvy bargain made by the owners many years ago. The Jimenes family , who also started Centro León in Santiago , still owns La Aurora cigar company , which in turn owns this museum.

American Ancestors | American Inspiration: The Lioness of Boston

Last night —  on September 11, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. — I watched a book talk on The Lioness of Boston written by Emily Franklin and published by Godine . This webinar was hosted by American Ancestors in partnership with the Boston Public Library and GBH Forum Network. Franklin has published over twenty novels and poetry books, but The Lioness of Boston , based on the life of Isabella Stewart Gardner, is her first historical fiction novel. Other speakers during the talk included Margaret M. Talcott , Director Of Literary Programs & Partnerships at American Ancestors; Kristin Motte , Adult Programs Librarian at the Boston Public Library; and Claire Messud , an author of six novels. Frederique Rigoulot , a journalist at GBH, moderated the chat and Q&A. Franklin described her first exposure to Isabella Stewart Gardner and her legacy. As a high school student in Boston, Franklin visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and wrote a paper about two paintings: Rembrandt’