Dedicated to the military history and civilization of the Eastern Roman Empire (330 to 1453)

"Time in its irresistible and ceaseless flow carries along on its flood all created things and drowns them in the depths of obscurity."

- - - - Princess Anna Comnena (1083–1153) - Byzantine historian

Saturday, May 5, 2012

13-Year-Old Student Tells Metropolitan: 'Your Map Is Wrong'

During a September visit to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, 13-year-old Benjamin Lerman Coady noticed an error in one of it maps of the Justinian conquests. He notified the staff and in January he received a letter from Dr. Helen Evans the museum's Mary and Michael Jaharis curator for Byzantine art (shown with him here) notifying him that he was correct in his assertion and the map would be updated.

Is your 13 year old smarter than a museum curator?

  • Carthage and Spain were left off the Metropolitan Museum's map of the Eastern Roman Empire.

The Hartford Courant:    Every so often, a visitor at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City questions the accuracy of an exhibit, but Helen Evans, one of the museum's curators, says not all of them are right.

Benjamin Lerman Coady, however, was.
Benjamin, 13, of West Hartford, is a seventh-grader at Renbrook School. Fascinated by history, he reads ahead in his textbooks. His mother sees his passion for the past and tries to provide an environment where Benjamin feels free to explore his interests.
That's how mother and son ended up at The Metropolitan Museum of Art last summer.
"It's more a parent seeing the world through a child's eyes," said Benjamin's mother, Joanne Lerman.
Benjamin wasn't quite sure what to expect at the art museum. He and his mother had visited the American Museum of Natural History a few times, but the Metropolitan was a new experience. Benjamin said he thought he'd see "just art on a wall."
He said he quickly learned that The Metropolitan is about more than just paintings — it's also about history.
While touring the museum, Benjamin and his mother stopped to look at the permanent exhibit about the Byzantine Empire — a part of history Benjamin had just studied in school.

The Byzantine map at the Metropolitan Museum left off the Roman
holdings in Spain and Carthage.

A map of the empire in the 6th century was on display, and Benjamin said he immediately began to check the dates. The map was supposed to show when the empire was at its largest, but Spain and part of Africa were missing, he said.
Benjamin told a museum docent about his observation, who instructed him to fill out a form at the front desk.
"The front desk didn't believe me," he said, explaining that he never expected to hear back from the museum. "I'm only a kid."
In September, he received a letter from the museum's senior vice president for external affairs. It said that his comments were being forwarded to the museum's medieval art department for further review.
A few months later — in January, Evans, the museum's Mary and Michael Jaharis curator for Byzantine art, sent Benjamin an email: "You are, of course, correct about the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire under Justinian," she wrote.
She invited Benjamin back to the museum to meet with her.
Benjamin said he was surprised that the museum readily admitted making a mistake, and he said the process taught him a valuable lesson.
"If you have a question, always ask it," he said. "Always take chances."
As for the error, Evans said this week that the museum is still working to fix it.

(The Hartford Courant)

No comments: