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Main Library Art Gallery

"Concord, which is my Rome”: Henry Thoreau and His Home Town Exhibition

July 7 - October 30, 2017 (Updated 9/19/2017)

"Concord, which is my Rome": Henry Thoreau and His Home Town : An exhibition drawn from the William Munroe Special Collections of the Concord Free Public Library (CFPL) to celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of Thoreau's birth from July 7 through October 30, 2017 in the Library's Art Gallery.

July 12, 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau. The Library will commemorate the event with the first major exhibition of its kind, "Concord, which is my Rome": Henry David Thoreau and his Home Town.

The exhibition, the third of three CFPL exhibits commemorating the bicentennial of Thoreau's birth, explores Thoreau's life and work within the context of his home town through manuscript materials, documents, letters, photographs, maps, surveys, engravings, record and account books, and related artwork, all exclusively from the library's William Munroe Special Collections.

Gala Opening occurred on Friday, July 14, 2017 at 7:00-9:00 p.m. [Watch Gala Opening Video]

Our opening speaker was Laura Dassow Walls, William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, where she is also affiliated with the History and Philosophy of Science program. A noted Thoreau scholar, Professor Walls is a prolific author whose works include the forthcoming Henry David Thoreau: A Life (University of Chicago Press, 2017).  In her talk, “Our True Paradise”: Thoreau’s Concord and the Ecstasy of the Commons, Professor Walls asks, could recovering Thoreau’s ideal of the commons renew our own vision of natural, political and cultural possibility—of the “true paradise” possessed by all?

The evening also included music from the Thoreau family flute books held by Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House (featuring flutist Judith Sherry Braude), refreshments, and an opportunity to view the exhibit.

The accompanying lecture series continues in September and October with talks by Elizabeth Hall Witherell, Robert Thorson, Robert Gross, and Robert Hudspeth.

On September 16, Elizabeth Hall Witherell presented “I think I could write a poem to be called Concord”: Thoreau Expresses the Inexpressible.  Witherell is the editor-in-chief of the ongoing Thoreau Edition, published by Princeton University Press.

On September 23, Robert Thorson discussed The Boatman: Henry David Thoreau’s River Years, which is also the title of his new book.  Thorson is a Professor of Geology at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

On Saturday, October 7, Robert A. Gross, Draper Professor of Early American History Emeritus, University of Connecticut will present “The Nick of Time”: Coming of Age in Thoreau’s Concord.

On Saturday, October 14, Robert N. Hudspeth, Research Professor at the Claremont Graduate University and Emeritus Professor of English, University of Redlands will speak about Thoreau’s Concord in His Correspondence.

The lectures are from 5:00-7:00 p.m. in the Main Library Rotunda. They are free and open to the public. All are welcome.

Gallery Tours with Leslie Perrin Wilson:

August 16, 10:00 a.m.

September 9, 10:00 a.m.

September 28, 7:00 p.m.

October 2, 3:00 p.m.

If you are interested in booking a tour of the exhibit, please contact the Special Collections staff at 978-318-3342 or


Special Collections Display Cases 

Operation Crossroads: Post-War Nuclear Testing on the Bikini Atoll, 1946
Photographs and documents from the Wilbur Y. Walworth Collection

In the Special Collections display cases (outside of the Special Collections Room) you will find a new exhibit highlighting photographs and related materials donated to the library by the late Wilbur Walworth's wife, Vivian. These fascinating and powerful images were taken during the summer of 1946 when Mr. Walworth, as an electrical engineer and recent veteran, was invited to participate as a "civilian observer" in two nuclear tests being conducted on the Bikini Atoll.  Wilbur and Vivian Walworth, along with their five children, were residents of Conantum.


Fowler Branch Meeting Room Exhibit

Check back here for the next exhibit.


Fowler Branch Display Case

The Library's Special Collections Department showcases archival materials in the Fowler Display Case on a regular basis.

On Display Now

"Up Assabet"; Henry on the North Branch

Quotes from the Journals of Henry David Thoreau

Images by Alfred Munroe and Alfred Hosmer


Art Jury

Check back here for the next Art Jury announcement. 

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