Conferences, presentations, lectures, etc. hosted by friends of the center.

Icon Drawing Course Jan 27 2018 in Manassas

December 27th, 2017 by

Nativity of Our lord and The Center for Byzantine Material Arts Invites you to the Icon I Drawing Class

Students will discover the underlying structure of the icon face and how it is related to the theology of the Church.  Basic drawing techniques will be taught and students will use pencil, charcoal, brush and ink.  We will work from many images of the icon and discover the continuity of this religious art through the centuries and our personal response to the image portrayed.

Special location: Address8911 Weems Rd, Manassas, VA 20110,  Phone(703) 629-0414

Tuition: $130   

Supplies provided


Contact Karen Ward for questions:


October 8th, 2016 by


October 11th, 2016 by

ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS IN BOSTON COLLECTIONS is the first exhibition to showcase highlights of illuminated manuscripts in the Boston area. An ambitious collaborative project, Beyond Words is notable for the size of its curatorial team, the number of lending institutions, and a multi-venue display. The exhibition presents more than 260 outstanding manuscripts and printed books from nineteen Boston-area collections, dating from the ninth to the seventeenth centuries. The exhibit is supplemented by an extensive catalog, a three-day symposium, and public programming. Explore the website for additional information on Beyond Word://

More info at

Encounter: The Mosaics in the Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai

April 11th, 2016 by

Encounter: The Mosaics in the Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai

I first went to Sinai in March 1987, when I was an MA student at the Courtauld and wanted to do my master’s thesis on images of the Transfiguration in Byzantine art. The palaver of getting it all together was very complicated: applications for travel awards….

Jaś Elsner. “Encounter: The Mosaics in the Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai.” Gesta 55, no. 1 (Spring 2016).

‘The Matter of Objects’: Medieval and Renaissance Materiality in Contemporary Conversation

January 26th, 2016 by

Following the ‘Material Turn(s)’ of the last few decades the place of objects and their materiality has received invigorated attention within humanities research. Yet, approaches to the material often remain stifled by the abstract ways in which they are approached. In the words of social anthropologist Tim Ingold, the engagement of historians with the material is ‘not with the tangible stuff of craftsmen and manufacturers but with the abstract ruminations of philosophers and theorists.’

This project, culminating in a temporary exhibition, aims to juxtapose Medieval and Renaissance objects with contemporary artistic responses in order to challenge traditional narratives of the role of objects in academic research. Taking current humanities research as the launch pad for investigation the event aims to create an open space for conversation between researcher and practitioner. Proposed Medieval and Renaissance objects, and their narratives, will serve as inspiration for artists to create a response piece. The contemporary response will be displayed during an exhibition at Queen Mary, University of London, where a launch event will encourage artists and researchers to come together to discuss their processes of deconstruction, interpretation and creation.

The exhibition will be accompanied by short but critical introductions to each piece, from historian and artist, with room for questions and thought. By creating a space for dialogue with practitioners who approach and experience their knowledge of the material from a different angle, we might open the way for reinvigorated readings of objects from the past. To allow a greater reach and extend the life of the project the temporary exhibition will be supported by an online exhibition that will serve as an on going discussion space.

We are seeking proposals from doctoral or early career researchers in history/art history/literary studies who work on Medieval, Renaissance or Early Modern period and would be prepared to write a synopsis of their research project (accessible to a general audience) and select an object that can serve as a gateway into their research.

The event is supported by the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at Queen Mary University of London.

The Holy Apostles—Visualizing a Lost Monument

May 11th, 2015 by

The Holy Apostles: Visualizing a Lost Monument celebrates the collaborative scholarly endeavor initiated in the early years of Dumbarton Oaks, which had the aim of reconstructing the now lost church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. The project was led by Albert M. Friend, an art historian, and included Glanville Downey, a philologist, and Paul Underwood, an architectural historian. The goal of this interdisciplinary team was a comprehensive three-part publication on the Holy Apostles that would present the architecture, mosaic decoration, and relevant texts that describe the vanished monument. Preliminary findings were presented during the 1948 Dumbarton Oaks symposium on the same subject, but the final results were never published.

At the center of this exhibition are the meticulous drawings executed by Paul Underwood, now preserved in the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA). They synthesize the knowledge and ideas of all three scholars, and show a building taking shape from a cube to a cruciform structure complete with colonnades, arches, and domes with detailed mosaic decoration. These drawings are accompanied by additional archival material from ICFA that illustrate the methodology and ideas behind the project, which drew on the scholars’ understanding of key texts by Constantine the Rhodian and Nicholas Mesarites and comparison with other monuments.

The extensive material that resulted from the Holy Apostles project cannot be fully displayed in the on-site exhibit. For further exploration, a booklet and this online exhibition are available.

The exhibition was created on the occasion of the 2015 Spring Symposium on the Holy Apostles in the approach to the seventy-fifth anniversary of Dumbarton Oaks. This symposium aims to complete the task of the early years by assessing the significance of the church, its milieu, and its legacy.