Your support for our virtual lectures is appreciated
The Preservation Society continues to serve its educational mission by hosting a lecture series featuring renowned historians, authors, and curators via online video conference.
These lectures are free and registration is open to the public. In order for us to continue these offerings, your support is critical. Please consider making a donation to the Preservation Society by clicking the donation button above. Any amount is greatly appreciated and we are thankful for your continued support.
To view past Virtual Lectures, click here.
Virtual Lectures - Fall 2020
The Breakers Geothermal System: A 19th- and 21st-Century Solution
Patricia Miller, Preservation Society Chief Conservator
Thursday, September 24, 5:30 p.m.
This lecture will be presented via Zoom video conference on Thursday, September 24, at 5:30 p.m. To register, email your full name to ProgramRSVP@newportmansions.org and write "Breakers Geothermal lecture" in the subject line
Beginning in 1892, Cornelius Vanderbilt II built The Breakers, a 125,000-square-foot Italian Renaissance-style summer "cottage" equipped with the most advanced domestic technology then available. Architect Richard Morris Hunt’s design for the house relied upon ocean breezes for natural cooling during the summer occupancy and a convection heat system to provide warmth during the winter. More than a century later, risks to the house and its collections, due to extreme fluctuations in relative humidity, prompted The Preservation Society to commission a climate modification study. The goal was to identify a system that would stabilize humidity levels, respect the existing infrastructure, integrate modern technology in a way that did not compromise historic integrity, and also meet sustainability goals.
Patricia Miller, Chief Conservator of The Preservation Society of Newport County, will explain how 21st-century geothermal technology was integrated with 19th-century heat supply infrastructure to provide climate control at The Breakers. This presentation is based on Ms. Miller’s recent paper published in the journal Studies in Conservation which will be delivered as part of the International Institute for Conservation 2020 Congress "Practices and Challenges in Built Heritage Conservation" aimed at bridging the divide between built heritage and in-situ collections.
Patricia Miller holds a B.F.A from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from Columbia University. Adding to her education, she earned a Certificate in Arts & Business Management from the Sotheby’s Institute in London and a Project Management Certificate from ESI/George Washington University.
Elegance and Aspiration: Money, Taste and Jewelry in America's Gilded Age
Ulysses Dietz, Chief Curator Emeritus, Newark Museum of Art
Thursday, October 8, 5:30 p.m.
This lecture will be presented via Zoom video conference on Thursday, October 8, at 5:30 p.m. To register, email your full name to ProgramRSVP@newportmansions.org and write "Ulysses Dietz lecture" in the subject line.
As America industrialized from the mid-19th century onward, all aspects of our country’s material culture industrialized as well. Jewelry, once the sole province of European aristocracy, became a commodity, produced and marketed to the rapidly expanding middle class. The very rich in America (most of them newly so) responded to this reality by embracing jewelry, both American-made and European, that evoked aristocratic traditions, and thus helped to distinguish the top of the socio-economic pyramid from everybody else. In the absence of inherited titles, jewelry became an identity badge of social standing and aspiration.
Ulysses Grant Dietz is Chief Curator Emeritus at the Newark Museum. He previously served as the museum’s Curator of Decorative Arts since 1980 and the Chief Curator since 2012. He has been instrumental in expanding and showcasing the museum’s jewelry collection. He has been the curator of more than 100 exhibitions covering all aspects of the decorative arts from colonial to contemporary.
Iron Empires: Robber Barons, Railroads, and the Making of Modern America
Michael Hiltzik, journalist for The Los Angeles Times
Thursday, October 15, 5:30 p.m.
This lecture will be presented via Zoom video conference on Thursday, October 15, at 5:30 p.m. To register, email your full name to ProgramRSVP@newportmansions.org and write "Iron Empires lecture" in the subject line.
When the final spike was driven into the ties of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, few were prepared for its aftershocks. The vicious competition between empire builders such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, J. P. Morgan and E. H. Harriman sparked stock market frenzies, panics and crashes; provoked strikes that upended the relationship between management and labor; transformed the nation’s geography; and culminated in a ferocious two-man battle that shook the nation’s financial markets to their foundations, producing dramatic, lasting changes in American business and government.
Michael Hiltzik brings to life these outsized figures and the era, industry and nation that they defined. Spanning four decades and set against the gritty, glittering backdrop of the Gilded Age, his book Iron Empires reveals how the robber barons drove the country into the 20th century — and almost sent it off the rails.
Michael Hiltzik is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who has written for The Los Angeles Times for three decades, serving as a financial and political writer, investigative reporter, technology writer and editor, and foreign correspondent in Africa and Russia. His columns on economics, business, public policy and politics can be found at www.latimes.com/people/michael-hiltzik.
Hiltzik’s previous books are Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention that Launched the Military-Industrial Complex (2015), The New Deal: A Modern History (2011), the New York Times bestseller Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century (2010), The Plot Against Social Security (2005), Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age (1999), and A Death in Kenya: The Murder of Julie Ward (1991).
A graduate of Colgate University and Columbia University, Hiltzik received the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for articles exposing corruption in the entertainment industry. His other awards for excellence in reporting include the 2004 Gerald Loeb Award for outstanding business commentary and the Silver Gavel from the American Bar Association for outstanding legal reporting.