Courtesy of Anna Von MertensCourtesy of Anna Von Mertens

This exhibition opens on November 9, 2018 and runs through January 19, 2019.

It will be on view in the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery of Byerly Hall at 8 Garden Street, Radcliffe Yard, Monday through Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m.

On November 8, 2018, there will be an exhibition opening discussion and reception at 5 p.m. in the Knafel Center.

Free and open to the public.

Anna Von Mertens uses the structures of quilting and drawing to examine the frontiers of human understanding. In this exhibition commissioned for the Radcliffe Institute, Von Mertens explores the life and work of Henrietta Leavitt, one of the women “computers” hired a century ago to study glass-plate astronomical photographs at the Harvard College Observatory. Leavitt searched for patterns among these glassy stars, and her findings provided a unit of measurement for galactic distances and led to our current understanding of the shape of the cosmos. Von Mertens’s meticulous stitches and intricate graphite marks reimagine Leavitt’s patient work, exploring the potency of single, measured actions as units of understanding.

Exhibition organized by Jennifer L. Roberts, Johnson-Kulukundis Family Faculty Director of the Arts, Radcliffe Institute, and Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University

Measure Gallery Series

In this series of events held in the gallery, Harvard students, faculty, and staff members from across the disciplinary spectrum respond to Anna Von Mertens’s work. 

Astronomical Glass Plate Open House
November 14, noon, and December 10, 3:30 PM
Display of and Q and A about the glass plates that Henrietta Leavitt used to study and measure celestial objects. 
Please register and join us.

VISION LAB: A Performative Conversation on “Frontiers of Human Understanding”
November 15, 3:30 PM
A creative and performative discussion of spiritual, intellectual, artistic, and environmental possibilities inspired by the exhibition
Please register and join us.

The Cloths of Heaven: Live Performance by the Harvard College Opera
November 16, 3:30 PM, and December 6, 3:30 PM
Harvard College Opera celebrates astronomical journeys, celestial joy, and out-of-this-world inspiration in a recital of art songs, arias, and world-premiere compositions.
Please register and join us.

Stairway to Heaven: Henrietta Leavitt and the Cosmic Distance Ladder
November 27, 3:30 PM
The science and the controversies behind the exhibition’s exploration of cosmic distance with the astrophysicist João Alves RI ’19 and Alyssa Goodman, faculty codirector of the science program
Please register and join us.

Live Performance: Preparatory Musical Readings of the Hanging Quilts of Measure
November 28, noon
Max Murray (tuba) and Adi Snir (saxophone, trumpophone) perform the art of the exhibition as musical compositions.
Please register and join us.

The Space Between: A Live Performance by the Harvard Ballet Company
November 29, 3:30 PM, and December 7, 3:30 PM
The Harvard Ballet Company offers an improvisational dance installation inspired by the exhibition. 
Please register and join us. 

Philosophical Threads: Discussion on Aesthetics with Edward J. Hall
November 30, noon
A discussion of aesthetics and elegance in science and art with the philosopher Edward J. Hall
Please register and join us.

Erasure? The Value of Female Computers’ Notations on Astronomical Glass Plates
November 30, 3:30 PM
Discussion of the scientific and historical value of the female computers’ notations on the astronomical glass plates
Please register and join us.

Read about all 2018–2019 exhibitions at the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery in Radcliffe Yard at https://onviewatradcliffe.org/.