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Conservation is something humans do. A million years ago, our early ancestors were repairing handaxes. Five thousand years ago, Egyptians buried their rulers in elaborate containers, in spaces that also held precious objects, inside gigantic and impenetrable pyramids designed to last for all time. Preservation (of self) is a concept at the heart of both modern political thought and modern biological thought. Nineteenth-century physicists began describing the workings of nature in terms of conservation of energy / force / momentum. It was at just this time that the conservation of art objects took on a specific shape with specific practices and, even, norms. In this series of conversations between artists, scientists, humanists and social scientists, we will explore the significance of conservation as a human practice with consequences for how we think about ourselves and our society, both past and future. Moderated by Peter N. Miller.

Join us on Zoom or in-person on West 86th Street. Learn more below.


March 2, 6–7:30 pm
Jeffrey Gibson, Sendhil Mullainathan, Marla Spivak, and Campbell McGrath

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April 27, 6–7:30 pm
Annette Gordon-Reed, Lauren Redniss, Danielle Bassett, and Stanley Nelson

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May 18, 6–7:30 pm
Ubaldo Vitali, Emily Wilson, and Beth Shapiro

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Supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Registration is open for a limited in-person audience. Bard Graduate Center requires proof of vaccination and photo identification to enter the building. Guests are required to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

These events will also be available on Zoom. A link will be circulated to registrants by 4 pm on the day of the event. Events will be live with automatic captions.

All conversations are scheduled to be recorded and posted on our website and YouTube channel until July 1, 2022.