Collecting Orthodoxy in the West: A History and a Look Towards the Future

In a 1947 article titled “Byzantine Art and Scholarship in America,” Kurt Weitzmann examined the history of collecting Byzantine art in the United States. “…The combination of formal beauty and material splendor, coupled with great technical perfection and an aristocratic spirit which gives to even the smallest object a rare distinction…” renders these works particularly attractive to private collectors, wrote Weitzmann. Our conference takes this statement as a starting point and focuses on the history of collecting Christian Orthodox objects in the West from the nineteenth century to the present: a topic replete with spectacular objects, profound questions and captivating narratives.

This international conference, organized and sponsored by the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, MA (USA), considers why, how, where, and by whom these objects have been and continue to be acquired. Once obtained, how are they classified, conserved, displayed, and described? How and by whom is their value, whether symbolic or monetary, determined? What is the relationship between their original purpose and the newfound one? From Marjorie Merriweather Post and Henry Walters to modern day collectors such as Gordon Lankton, small private museums to major public institutions, there has been a sustained interest in owning architectural remnants, manuscripts, liturgical objects, enkolpia and, of course, icons. Whether to save them from destruction, perpetuate a living tradition, preserve personal or communal memory, demonstrate erudition, wealth or taste, or to tell a story, these pieces are found in nearly every important collection. In addition to the above, topics include, but are not limited to: discussions of single objects or entire collections; individual or institutional collectors; related questions of loot, provenance, authenticity, religious and cultural sensitivity, and ethics; as well as past collecting patterns versus possible future directions.

We welcome papers from museum professionals and scholars at any career stage. Please send a CV as well as a 350-word abstract with at least one image to Lana Sloutsky at by 5 October 2020. Selected speakers will be notified by 6 November 2020. The virtual conference is scheduled for 11 and 12 June 2021. Interested presenters will have a chance to have their papers peer-reviewed and published in the 2022 issue of the Journal of Icon Studies.

Visit the conference webpage at

Registration Information

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Hourly Schedule

FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 2021 (10:00 AM-4:30 PM, ALL TIMES EST)

1100 - 1230
Christian Orthodox Artifacts on Tour. The Exhibitions of the 1920s and 1930s
Dr. Francesco Lovino, Associate Fellow, Centre for Early Medieval Studies of the Masaryk University in Brno.

Early Russian Art in Oxford
Dr. Georgi Parpulov, Research Fellow, University of Birmingham

The Sekulić Collection of Icons. A Gem of the Belgrade City Museum
Dr. Jelena Erdeljan, Professor of Art History, University of Belgrade

‘Remote Beauty’ or ‘Historical Interest’? Exploring the Motives of Richard Hare as a Collector and Scholar of Russian Icons
Dr. Louise Hardiman, Independent Scholar

Collecting Orthodoxy in 18th- and 19th-century Rome. From the collection of Agostino Mariotti (1724- 1806) to the Vatican Museums (from 1820 to today)
Dr. Ginevra Odone, Assistant Lecturer in Modern Art History, Aix-Marseille Université
1230 - 1330
Networking Lunch/Break
1330 - 1430
Dealers Then and Now: A Moderated Discussion
Dr. Christine Brennan, Senior Researcher and Collections Manager, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Dr. Elizabeth Dospel Williams, Associate Curator of the Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks
Dr. Sir Richard Temple, Bt., Founder of the Temple Gallery, London
1445 - 1530
Teaching the Sacred: Education at the Museum of Russian Icons
Amy Consalvi, Director of Education and Visitor Services, Museum of Russian Icons

Collections Management and Care at the Museum of Russian Icons
Laura Garrity-Arquitt, Registrar, Museum of Russian Icons
1530 - 1630
Social Event

SATURDAY, JUNE 12, 2021 (9:30 AM-4:30 PM)

1000 - 1130
The Inveterate Collector: A Man of Many Icons
Kent dur Russell, Executive Director, Museum of Russian Icons

From Forges to Fiery Furnaces: Amy Putnam and the Timken Museum’s Russian Icon Collection
Dr. Derrick R. Cartwright, Associate Professor of Art History, University of San Diego, Director of University Galleries, USD, Director of Curatorial Affairs, Timken Museum of Art

Cast Icons: Preserving Sacred Traditions
Dr. Masha Zavialova, Chief Curator of the Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis

Nicholas and Helena Roerichs’ Icon Collection and the Light from the East
Dr. Wendy Salmond, Professor of Art History, Chapman University
1130 - 1230
Networking Lunch/Break
1230 - 1400
Post, Davies and Grabar: The Russian Icon
Dr. Roann Barris, Professor of Art History, Radford University

From Private to Public: The Menil Icon Collection in the Museum
Clare Elliott, Associate Research Curator, Menil Collection

Collecting Orthodox Christian Art at the Walters Art Museum: Past, Present, and Future
Dr. Christine Sciacca, Associate Curator of European Art, Walters Art Museum

The Worcester Art Museum: Groundbreaking Home to Byzantine Art, 1925-45
Dr. Deborah H. Stein, Independent Scholar and Lecturer, Museum of Fine Arts Boston

The Long Journey of the Jumati Medallions: To a Monastery, Private Collections and Beyond
Mariam Otkhmezuri Charlton, Graduate Student, Hunter College, CUNY

1430 - 1530
The Paul M. Fekula Collection of Orthodox Icons and Liturgical Artifacts
Dmitry Gurevich, Independent Researcher and Proprietor of the Russian Store

Icons in Captivity: Sacred Images of the Romanovs at Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg
Nicholas B. A. Nicholson, Curator, Russian History Museum

Peasant Iconographers. Tradition, Families, and Preserving Personal Background
Dr. Mihaela D. Leonida, Professor of Chemistry, Fairleigh Dickinson University
1545 - 1625
Icon Commentaries: From Authenticity to Forgery
Dr. Justin Willson, Lecturer in Medieval and Byzantine Art, Princeton University

Getting the Bug: Collecting Icons Today
Dr. John McCarthy, Former Australian diplomat and icon collector
1630 - 1645


Jun 11 - 12 2021


10:00 - 17:00



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