Famed philosopher/writer Henry David Thoreau only sat for two photographs during his lifetime. Both are on view at the Concord Museum in new exhibition
Famed philosopher/writer Henry David Thoreau only sat for two photographs during his lifetime. Both are on view at the Concord Museum in new exhibition that opens this weekend.

Henry David Thoreau's yearlong 200th birthday celebration culminates in a big way this weekend with the opening of "This Ever New Self: Thoreau and His Journal" at the Concord Museum.

On view Sept. 29-Jan. 21, it is the most comprehensive exhibition ever created about one of the world's most original thinkers and writers.

A showcase of papers, photos and more, "This Ever New Self" brings together remarkable holdings from the world's two most significant Thoreau collections: journals, manuscripts, letters, books and field notes from the Morgan Library & Museum and unique personal items, including the desk on which Thoreau wrote "Walden" and "Civil Disobedience" from the Concord Museum.

A free family day Saturday at Minute Man National Historic Park focuses on nature.
A free family day Saturday at Minute Man National Historic Park focuses on nature.

It comes to Concord "fresh from its extraordinary success in New York at the Morgan," said Margaret Burke, executive director of the Concord Museum.

"It is one of the most important exhibits the Concord Museum has had the privilege to present," Burke added. "We are excited to reunite -- in his hometown -- Henry David Thoreau's personal items and journals. Nearly two centuries after Thoreau's birth, we are just beginning to appreciate the enormous impact he has had on our culture, our thinking and our appreciation of our world. We are proud to share those insights with the people of Concord and with admirers from around the world."


Colin B. Bailey, the Morgan's director, noted, "The Morgan is pleased to partner with the Concord Museum in bringing this extraordinary exhibition to the public. Henry David Thoreau has variously been cast as naturalist, hermit philosopher and political activist. However, none of these labels do justice to the breadth of his interests and enormous impact on American culture and letters."

But, he added, "It is perhaps in his journal that one finds Thoreau in full voice, commenting thoughtfully on a range of topics, from the seemingly mundane to the historic events of his day."

Featured are nearly 100 items, including, for the first time, the only two photos for which Thoreau sat during his lifetime. More than 20 of his journal notebooks are shown along with letters, manuscripts, books from his library, pressed plants from his herbarium and important personal artifacts, like his walking stick.

"It's a wonderful highlight of the bicentennial to have Thoreau's journal back in Concord for the first time in over a century," museum curator David Wood said. "I am one of the many who believe that the place to find the real historical Thoreau is in his journal, and this exhibition is the first ever to successfully view it in that light."

A symposium in honor of the bicentennial of Thoreau's birth takes place Saturday, Oct. 28, and features eight esteemed Thoreau scholars who use his journal as a point of departure to introduce the many facets of this extraordinary man.

For more on this and other programs, visit www.concordmuseum.org or call 978-369-9763.

Nancye Tuttle's email address is nancyedt@verizon.net.

Art picks

HOMAGE TO THOREAU: What if Thoreau had been a photographer? The answer to that question is the focus of "Beyond Spheres," a new exhibit by Koichiro Kurita at Northern Essex Community College on view through Saturday, Oct. 28, in the Linda Hummel-Shea Artspace in the Bentley Library, 100 Elliott St., Haverhill. The 30 pieces are an homage to Kurita's two most influential mentors -- Thoreau and photography pioneer Henry Fox Talbot. "The exhibit is about my visual journey to understand Thoreau's perception as I trace his footsteps through New England and the goal is for these photographs to interpret the essence of Thoreau's philosophy and love of nature through photography." For more than a year, Kurita explored remote and hidden sites along the Ipswich, Concord, Assabet, Sudbury and Merrimack Rivers, retracing portions of Thoreau's 1839 journey chronicles in his book "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers." An opening reception and talk will be held Thursday, Sept. 28, 3:30-5:30 p.m., in the ArtSpace.

FAMILY FUN DAY: Minute Man National Historical Park hosts free family activities Saturday, Sept. 30, from 10-11:30 a.m. Connect with nature at the North Bridge in creative ways with the cast of "Nature," an outdoor play being presented at the Old Manse. Activities include reflective journaling and creative exercises to help participants learn to listen to their surroundings. Other fun activities include free admission to The Wayside and Home of Authors, and a ranger-led walk along the Battle Road. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and dress for the weather. Limited to 30 participants and recommended for families with kids ages 6 and up. Call Park Ranger Kellen Allen at 978-318-7826 to register. For info on activities, visit www.nps.gov/mima.

CANAL CLEANUP: There is a change in location for Lowell Canalwaters Cleaners canal cleanup Saturday, Sept. 30. Volunteers are asked to go to 249 Moody St., Lowell, at 9 a.m. Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust volunteers will still meet from 9 a.m.-noon on the Concord River Greenway, Davidson Street, Lowell. All ages are welcome, but kids under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Check www.lowelllandtrust.org for details.