Asa Simon Mittman deposited Asa Simon Mittman, “Touching the Past/Being Touched by the Past” in the group Medieval Art on Humanities Commons 3 years, 6 months ago
I want to touch the Middle Ages. I want to hold all of the works of art in all the museums. I want to turn the pages, not by touching a screen or mouse in the Brit- ish Library’s Turning The PagesTM app, but by touching vellum in the British Li- brary’s reading room. I want to open and close the wings on altarpieces, to feel ivories warm in my hand, to drink from the Mérode Cup while achieving check- mate with the Lewis Chessmen. I have even been tempted, like John, to eat the occasional book (fig. 1). Lead paints (and laws) make this a bad idea. Some of this is impossible; some is not. With a bit of planning and funding and effort, I can get myself to the British Library, where the generous librarians allow me access to wonders. With the right letters of introduction and negotiations, I can gain access to other collections, other treasures, other experiences, but I will never drink from a medieval cup, I suspect. I am deeply fortunate to have the sorts of access I have, and I try not to push my luck, so that such privileges may continue and expand.