Illuminating Women in the Medieval World

June 20–September 17, 2017, Getty Center

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The lives of women in the Middle Ages were nuanced and varied, reflecting diverse geographic, financial, and religious circumstances. The pages of illuminated manuscripts reveal the many facets of and attitudes toward medieval womanhood.

Drawn primarily from the Museum’s collection, this exhibition presents the biblical heroines, female saints, and pious nuns who embodied ideals of proper behavior, as well as figures who strayed from the path of righteousness. Beyond being subjects, women were also involved in the creation of manuscripts; they commissioned books and sometimes illuminated them.


Power in Patronage: When Medieval Women Made Books

In the Middle Ages, women of great wealth and social status often exercised their power and influence through the objects they commissioned, especially books. Christine Sciacca, associate curator at The Walters Art Museum, introduces several women book patrons—a duchess, a middle-class woman, and a community of nuns who commissioned manuscripts for their personal use—who shaped the history of medieval book production as we know it today. 

Sunday, July 23, 3:00 p.m.
Getty Center, Museum Lecture Hall

Drinking in the Past: Medieval Microbrews

From sunrise to sunset, throughout the year, families in medieval Europe made and drank fermented beverages for health, pleasure, and profit. Join curator Bryan C. Keene and certified beer expert Mark Mark Keene in savoring the history of beer, ale, and mead in this tasting program, that pairs art with medieval and (more delicious) modern brews. Beer tasting enjoyed on the outdoor terrace following the talk. Tickets $65 (includes appetizers); ages 21 and over. Complimentary parking.

Friday, August 4, 6:00–9:00 p.m.
Getty Center, Museum Lecture Hall

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Learn about remarkable women who inhabit the pages of manuscripts, and about patrons and artists responsible for books’ luxurious illuminations.

Pick up a multimedia player free of charge in the Museum Entrance Hall.



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