Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Foreword

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Foreword

Article excerpt

The Princess and the Patriot: Ekaterina Dashkova, Benjamin Franklin, and the Age of Enlightenment is the title not only of this volume but also of an exhibition held at the Museum of the American Philosophical Society in Philosophical Hall, Philadelphia, from February through December 2006. The fourth exhibition organized by the Museum since the Society's new outreach program was established in 2001, it is a major contribution to the Society's celebration of the 300th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Benjamin Franklin.

It is also an occasion to celebrate Ekaterina Romanovna Dashkova, an eighteenth-century woman of science who became the Society's first female member, elected in 1789. She was the Director of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and Arts under Catherine the Great. It is the first exhibition on Dashkova in the United States and the first to juxtapose the manifestation of the Enlightenment in North America to that of Catherinian Russia. Included in the show are portraits, jewelry, porcelain, engravings, maps, memoirs, letters, and scientific objects. Many of the objects are being borrowed from other institutions including the Archives of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) in St. Petersburg, the State Historical Museum in Moscow, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.

The first section of the exhibition explores the lives of these two luminaries in their own very different worlds-Dashkova's St. Petersburg, a grand imperial city on the Neva River, and Franklin's Philadelphia, a bustling new port on the Delaware River, the birthplace of a new nation. …

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