Dr. Merritt Roe Smith, MIT Professor, Nov. 16

This detail of a painting by William Allen Wall depicts Wamsutta Mill in 1847, with pastures and grazing cattle in the foreground and a steam engine and shipping in the background. The seismic shift from agricultural to industrial base happened rapidly in many communities across America in the mid 19th century - the subject of a lecture by MIT professor, Merritt Roe Smith, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Dr. Merritt Roe Smith, Professor of the History of Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will present “The Machine in the Garden: America’s Conflict with New Technology,” on Tuesday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the New Bedford Whaling Museum – the concluding lecture in the Old Dartmouth Lyceum 2010 series. A pre-lecture reception begins at 6:45 p.m.

Dr. Smith will explore how Americans’ evolving views of technology are reflected in the way artists present technological elements, such as the railroad, within American landscape paintings. Americans found themselves conflicted as new technologies changed existing patterns of cultural relationships and control. While the steam engine and electricity offered immense opportunities, they also threatened many and these conflicts are visible in some paintings of the 19th century as is the attempt to demonstrate how technological and industrial development forwarded the Democratic ideal. Careful examination of the art of the period reveals much about the struggles of the times.

“Dr. Smith is a leading expert in industrial history and the history of technology. It is a distinct honor to have him as a guest lecturer at the Whaling Museum,” said Dr. Gregory Galer, the Whaling Museum’s Vice President of Collections and Exhibitions, and MIT alumnus.

Tickets: $15 (non-members, $20). Call (508) 997-0046, ext. 100 for reservations.

The series has featured presentations by national experts in American landscape painting, and scholars in the field of American Studies, exploring 19th century landscape painting within the context of the Whaling Museum’s collection as featured in the Old Dartmouth Historical Society Wattles Family Gallery, and is funded in part by Sovereign/Santander www.sovereignbank.com

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