2020/2021 Friends Lecture Series

Friends welcome celebrated writer, educator, and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams 

April 8, 2021 11:00 am



Ticket Price: Free

Join us for a reading and discussion led by Deborah Karasov of Great Plains Institute, a national policy organization for a net carbon future.

Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams, a naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech has consistently shown us how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice. Williams, like her writing, can be hard to categorize. She has testified before Congress on women’s health issues, been a guest at the White House, has camped in the remote regions of Utah and Alaska and worked as a ‘barefoot artist’ in Rwanda.

Known for her impassioned and lyrical prose, Ms Williams is the author of several environmental classics including Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, When Women Were Birds and The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of American’s National Parks in honor of the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service. Her most recent book, Erosion: Essays of Undoing is a collection of wide-ranging essays that explore the many forms of erosion we face: of democracy, science, compassion, trust.

In 2006, Williams received the Robert Marshall Award from the Wilderness Society, their highest honor given to an American citizen. She has also received the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award honoring a distinguished record of leadership in American conservation, the 2017 Audubon New York Award for environmental writing, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in creative nonfiction, among others. In 2009, TTW was featured in a Ken Burns’ PBS series on the national parks. 

Ms Williams is currently writer-in-residence at the Harvard Divinity School and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change.

In her words, “ I write about culture, I write about landscape, I write about public lands, I write about family. More than anything I hope that I’m writing about what it means to be human in a just society.”

Reserve your tickets online, or by calling 612.870.3000

This event is a Friends Only Event. Join the Friends today and attend the event!

Join The Friends

Get Tickets

Save the date for January lecture

January 14, 2021 11:00 am



Ticket Price: Free

Kick-Off the New Year with a Friends Lecture! 

Dr. Katherine Luber, Executive Director of Mia, will present “Beyond Durer: Becoming a Museum Director,” introducing attendees to Albrecht Dürer, the artist who was the subject of her dissertation.  Tickets are available to Friends members on December 15, and to the general public on December 17. Reserve online, or by calling 612-870-3000. 

Friends Lecture Series

November 12, 2020 11:00 am



Ticket Price: Free

Threat and Response: Saving the World’s Manuscript Heritage from Imminent Danger

Father Columbia Stewart, Director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library will give the Friends November Lecture. 

Violent extremism, sectarian conflict, and the relentless pressures of globalization are destroying the written sources of human civilization. Hear how the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) is responding to these threats. HMML is the only institution in the world exclusively dedicated to the photographic preservation and study of manuscripts, with a particular emphasis on manuscripts located in places where war, security, or economic conditions pose a threat. HMML is making a critical impact in these preservation efforts around the world, including the Middle East, Ethiopia, South Asia, and the former Soviet Union—all areas that are rich in ancient cultures, yet currently torn by political instability and lack of resources. 

Father Columba Stewart, a Benedictine monk and Executive Director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, will talk about his team’s work digitally preserving manuscripts of diverse world cultures and religions at risk of being destroyed by war, disaster, looting, and neglect. 

Since its founding in 1965, HMML has worked with libraries in more than 20 countries to photograph historic manuscripts in dozens of languages. Some of the original manuscripts were later destroyed, stolen, lost, or moved for safekeeping. The library now holds the largest online collection of manuscripts in the world and makes them available on the vHMML Reading Room, an online environment for manuscript studies.

Upon becoming Executive Director of HMML in 2003, Father Columba embarked upon extensive travels throughout the world to establish working relationships with communities possessing manuscript collections dating from the early medieval period to modern times. Since then, HMML has digitized manuscripts from some of the world’s most dangerous and inaccessible places. Father Columba and his team accomplish this by working with local leaders to photograph manuscripts, “to ensure that their deposits of wisdom, their libraries of handwritten texts, the voices of their past, can join the global conversations of the digital era.” Father Columba has said, “We don’t always know trouble is coming, but we have a history of being there just in time.  People can say it’s serendipity, but I believe in providence.”     

A graduate of Harvard, Yale and Oxford Universities, Father Columba has written extensively on his research of early Christian monasticism. In 1981, he joined the Benedictines, the order that built libraries in the Middle Ages, preserving and reproducing Bibles and other religious and philosophical texts by hand. He is the recipient of numerous awards, grants, and fellowships. Most recently, he was the first Minnesotan invited to give the 2019 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the highest honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.

 A Mark and Mary Goff Fiterman lecture.


September Friends Lecture Features Psychologist Dr. Ellen Winner

September 10, 2020 11:00 am


Virtual Event

Ticket Price: Free

Find out why art motivates and moves

We all know that art captivates and moves us, but it takes a psychologist to try and pin down why that is, and attempt to tease out the ways in which we all benefit from exposure to art. It takes a psychologist to bring the rigors of science to bear on easily made assumptions that sometimes prove not to be as obvious as they seem. For example, it was Dr. Winner who debunked the claim that exposure to arts education raises students’ scores on standardized tests, a finding that spurred her ongoing investigation into arts education and the actual benefits students derive from studying art.

Dr. Winner is the Department Head and Professor of Psychology at Boston College and Senior Research Associate at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education. She directs the Arts and Mind Lab which focuses on cognition in the arts and is the author of more than 200 articles and four books.

In her most recent book, “How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration,” Dr. Winner looks at art through psychological and philosophical lenses and discusses answers to timeless questions such as:

Why do we need Art? After all, no one has ever discovered a culture without one or more forms of Art. 

Is Art inherent to our species? Is it, like language, something we are just programmed to do, part of being human? 

Is it true that people have stronger emotional reactions to music than to the visual arts?

Is it true that people actually can tell the difference between abstract art created by artists and that created by “my five-year-old” and, if so, how? 

And why is it that we are drawn to art that depicts tragic or horrifying events? Is it possible that interacting with art helps us develop empathy?

For the answers to these and other questions, come hear Dr. Winner speak. To register for this virtual event click here, or call 612.870.3000. A Zoom link will be emailed to registrants prior to the event. Part of the Friends Lecture Series.  

Get Tickets