Thursday, March 28, 2013

Junipero Serra exhibit in San Marino opens Aug. 17


The Huntington is Exclusive Venue
for Major, International Loan Show

Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art
Aug. 17, 2013–Jan. 6, 2014
Francisco Palou, Relacion Historica de la vida y apolstolicas
tareas del venerable padre fray Junipero Serra, 1787. Book, 8 ¼ × 12 in. open.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The life of Junípero Serra (1713-1784)—and his impact on Indian life and California culture through his founding of missions—is the subject of a comprehensive, international loan exhibition this fall at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. The show runs from Aug. 17, 2013, to Jan. 6, 2014, in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art.

            “Junípero Serra and the Legacies of the California Missions” examines Serra’s early life and career in Mallorca, Spain; his mission work in Mexico and California; the diversity and complexity of California Indian cultures; and the experiences of the missionaries and Indians who lived in the missions.

            The exhibition also delves into the preservation and reconstruction of the missions as physical structures; the persistence of Indian culture from before the mission period to the present; the missions’ enduring place in California culture today; and a wide variety of perspectives—some of them irreconcilable—on Serra and the meaning of his life.

            “Junípero Serra” coincides with the 300th anniversary of Serra’s birth and will include nearly 250 objects from 60 lenders in the United States, Mexico, and Spain.

            “It’s a rich, complex, and multi-faceted story and one that has not been told before in an exhibition of this magnitude,” said Steven Hackel, co-curator of the exhibition, professor of history at the University of California, Riverside, and Serra biographer (Junípero Serra: California’s Founding Father, 2013). “Serra was 55 years old and had had a very full life by the time he came to California in 1769. In this show we are working to move beyond the standard polemic that often surrounds Serra and the missions. We present a picture that is equally rich in its portrayal of not only Serra’s life but the meaning of the missions for a range of California Indians.” The general tendency is to think that Serra’s life work began with the California missions, Hackel added, and that Indian culture disappeared with the onset of those missions. “The exhibition challenges both of these assumptions.” 

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