"PLAGUE, AN ABIDING SCOURGE" 

UMass Medical School and the Worcester Art Museum present a symposium offering views on plague from medical, historical and artistic perspectives 

SEPTEMBER 1, 2005 

WORCESTER, Mass.  For centuries, the bubonic plague struck Europe with unpredictable and disastrous frequency. The invisible nature of the plague generated fear, horror and anxiety, which was both depicted and calmed by the art of the period.  In conjunction with the exhibition, Hope and Healing: Painting in Italy in a Time of Plague, 1500-1800 , currently on view at the Worcester Art Museum through Sept. 25, the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Museum will present the symposium, Plague, An Abiding Scourge on Sunday, September 11 at 1:30 p.m. at Worcester's famed Tuckerman Hall.

The symposium will feature presentations that examine responses to this medical and economic catastrophe, which continue to have great relevance in our own time as the fears and realities of contagion by disease persists.  In concert with the exhibition, the symposium aims to engage the modern audience in these issues and provoke discussion about the role of art and medicine in times of crisis.

Free and open to the public, the symposium includes presentations that examine plague from a historical and medical perspective. Michael F. Collins, MD, Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston and the former president and chief executive officer of Caritas Christi Health Care System, will present, "The Art of Healing." Internationally renowned expert in infectious diseases  Robert W. Finberg, MD , the Richard M. Haidack Professor of Medicine and chair of medicine at UMass Medical School, will discuss "Plague Past & Present." And, the lectures will conclude with "Hope & Healing in Art," by Pamela M. Jones, Associate Professor of Art History at UMass Boston and an exhibit curator.

Following the presentations, a reception will be held at the Worcester Art Museum and tours of Hope and Healing: Painting in Italy in a Time of Plague, 1500-1800  will be offered by exhibition curators.

About the Exhibit 
With busy international ports, Italy, in particular suffered wave after wave of plague outbreaks from the mid-14th to early 18th century. The theocratic society of early modern Italy believed plague was both caused and cured by God, and the church mandated potential measures, such as fasting, processions, charity and prayer to heavenly intercessors, to end the scourge.

Presented in partnership with Clark University and the College of the Holy Cross, Hope and Healing: Painting in Italy in a Time of Plague, 1500-1800, comprises 37 works by Baroque masters who worked in Italy in the midst of the plague. This exhibit explores the ways in which Italian society responded to this recurring, unpredictable disaster by illuminating a variety of aesthetic, social, and religious concerns. Thirty museums and private collectors, here and abroad, have lent works to this landmark exhibit, which is the first in North America to explore art's role during the plague. The greatest artists of the time, including Tintoretto, Canaletto, Mignard, Sweerts and Van Dyck, are represented.

Contact: Kelly Bishop
508.856.2000
kelly.bishop@umassmed.edu