Souvenirs of Ruin

Piranesi and the Birth of Western Tourism

October 27, 2023 - February 10, 2024

Italian artist, archaeologist, and architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) combined his multi-disciplinary interests to produce dramatic depictions of Roman temples, aqueducts, monuments, and ruins. In the eighteenth century, Piranesi’s prints often inspired travelers to embark on the Grand Tour through Europe. Some tourists then brought home an engraving by Piranesi to commemorate their experiences among these newly excavated sites. Other travelers, such as Commodore Jesse Duncan Elliott (1782-1845), a former Dickinson College Trustee and resident of Carlisle, acquired eclectic collections of antique fragments during their Mediterranean travels. Curated by Dickinson student Emily Angelucci ’24, this exhibition features a wide selection of Piranesi’s romanticized perspectives of Roman ruins alongside Elliott’s artifacts, which include pieces of the Parthenon, sarcophagi, and statuary. Seen in dialogue with Elliott’s antiquities, Piranesi’s prints demonstrate the Grand Tourists’ shared desire for tangible connections to the ancient world. 


Unruly Texts, Provocative Pictures

November 10, 2023 - April 6, 2024

Across a diverse selection of prints, sculpture, photographs, and drawings, this exhibition presents disruptive combinations of texts and images. Dating from the nineteenth century to the present day, the works on display employ visual and semantic tactics that are surprising, satirical, and sometimes unsettling. Individual objects feature captions, labels, speech banderoles, narratives, poems, as well as words and letters shaped into artful forms. The artworks provoke their beholders to question assumptions, consider difficult truths, and cast a critical eye on the social world.