The Bard Travel Program has been a longstanding part of the MA program. Led by faculty, these two-week international trips not only give the first-year MA class a chance to see many of the objects, artwork, and architecture covered during their first year of studies, but offer behind the scenes access to collections. Anchored by our international partnerships with the Royal College of Art, the Ecole du Louvre, and the Humboldt University in Berlin, we’ve recently added the opportunity for students to participate in archaeological fieldwork in Greece as part of this program. We look forward to resuming this trip in the summer of 2022.

Berlin 2019
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For the first time in more than fifteen years, BGC students had the chance to travel to Berlin on the annual Bard Travel Program. Organized and led by Professor Deborah Krohn, with the assistance of PhD candidate Antonia Behan, eleven first-year students spent an action-packed nine days in Germany’s dynamic capital and nearby cultural centers, including day trips to Dessau to see the iconic Bauhaus, Dresden for the inimitable Grünes Gewölbe, and Postdam, to walk the sprawling grounds of Sanssouci Gardens and Palaces.

A series of guided tours to museums and architectural monuments left us happily exhausted each evening. In addition to the predictable museum visits, including the magnificent Neues Museum, renovated by David Chipperfield, the Bode Museum, where we were privileged to have a curatorial tour by chief curator Julien Chapuis, and the Museum der Dinge, we spent a fascinating morning at the Tieranatomisches Theater, part of the Hermann von Helmholtz Center for Cultural Techniques at the Humboldt University, with its director and curator. We walked the perimeter of the highly controversial new Humboldt Forum, hearing about its transformation over the course of the twentieth century, from Hohenzollern Royal Palace to People’s Palace to what it is about to become, Berlin’s Ethnological Museum and Museum of Asian Art. Berlin’s difficult past is never far from the surface, as we found as we toured the former Luftwaffe Headquarters, the Propaganda Ministry, the reconstructed Reichstag, and the vast outdoor Holocaust Memorial designed by Peter Eisenman. A city with both fascinating and profound local history, and global reach, Berlin was an ideal destination for our first-year students.

Paris 2019
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Paris was again the destination for four lucky MA students, accompanied by doctoral candidate Antonio Sanchez-Gomez and Professor Jeffrey Collins, specialist in early modern France and Italy. Their ten-day study course, organized as part of an ongoing exchange with the École du Louvre, emphasized materials and meanings in the history of design, from practical applications to personal associations to cultural and political claims. Highlights included a full day at Versailles, with private visits to the Petit Trianon, the Queen’s Theater and Hamlet, the Orangerie, and the State Apartments. The group also made study trips to the nearby châteaux of Rambouillet (with visits to the famous shell-encrusted cottage and the rustic neoclassical dairy built for Marie-Antoinette); Malmaison, redecorated by Percier and Fontaine for Napoleon Bonaparte and Joséphine de Beauharnais; and Chantilly, including the newly reopened private apartments of the Duke and Duchess of Aumale, rare survivors of 1840s interior decoration from the July Monarchy.

At the Louvre, seminars concentrated on the apartments of Napoleon III (with curator Anne Dion) and the newly-installed galleries of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French decorative arts (with curator Frédéric Dassas); at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the group looked in depth at the creative dialogue between Asian and European ceramics (with curator Béatrice Quette) and at the distinctive materials, methods, and styles of French furniture making from the fourteenth through nineteenth centuries. Capping a focus on late nineteenth-century Paris at the Musée d’Orsay, the group visited what all agreed was a standout of the program: the sumptuous love nest (now a private club) constructed on the Champs-Élysées for the Russian-born courtesan Esther Lachmann, soi-disant marquise de la Païva, who spared no material, iconography, or expense to announce her arrival at the top of the city’s demimonde and the power of a liberated woman to achieve her dreams.
Greece 2019
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Following their study programs in Berlin and Paris, four BGC students joined Professor Caspar Meyer for an additional two-week archaeological field trip to Greece. The group met in Athens where they visited the city’s archaeological attractions–including the Acropolis and its new museum, the Agora, the Kerameikos and the National Museum–before boarding the ferry to the Cycladic islands. For the next ten days the BGC team participated in excavations on Despotiko, a small uninhabited island off Antiparos. They worked alongside an international consortium of specialists from Greece, Italy, Austria, Germany, and the UK, led by Yannos Kourayos from the Greek Ministry of Culture.

The project focuses on a sanctuary of Apollo and Artemis which flourished from Archaic times. In recent years the site produced exceptionally interesting material, such as a deposit of votives (terracotta figurines, ivory plaques, faience vessels, and jewelry) sealed under the floor of the main temple as well as domestic structures pre-dating the establishment of the sanctuary. The finds provide rare insight into the political dynamics of the region that led to the consecration of the site and the motivations that prompted worshippers to visit this remote sanctuary and address its deities with gifts.

Students were trained in relevant field skills, such as stratigraphic and architectural recording and the processing of small finds. They examined finds from previous years in the store rooms of the Paros Museum and were given an introduction to the architectural restoration program by the marble carvers working on Despotiko. Other highlights included a visit to the underground quarries on Paros, famed throughout antiquity for their pure-white lychnitis marble, and regular opportunities for recovery from physical toil at nearby beaches and gastronomic établissements.