Thoreau’s Desk Travels to NYC

The simple green pine desk that Henry David Thoreau used during his famous stay at Walden Pond left Concord, Massachusetts, for the first time last week, bound for the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, where it will be on exhibit beginning Friday, June 2. Alongside eighteen other Thoreau artifacts from the Concord Museum, the desk is part of a joint exhibition titled, This Ever New Self: Thoreau and His Journal.

2 Desk copy.jpgDavid Wood, curator of the Concord Museum and author of An Observant Eye: The Thoreau Collection at the Concord Museum, explained in a press release: “Thoreau’s green desk was made in Concord in 1838 by a cabinetmaker who charged about a dollar for it. Thoreau kept it with him all his life, wrote on it daily, and kept his journal locked inside it. The part the desk played in American’s intellectual history is all out of proportion to its humble form. It’s interesting to note that in all likelihood Thoreau’s green desk has never before been more than two miles from the shop it was made in.”

Thoreau’s walking stick, flute, spyglass, and his copy of the Bhagavad-Gita are among the objects lent by the Concord Museum to the Morgan for an exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of the author’s birth. More than twenty of Thoreau’s journal notebooks from the Morgan’s collection, along with letters, manuscripts, and field notes, will also be featured.

This Ever New Self will be on view at the Morgan through September 10. It will then travel to the Concord Museum for a second run, September 29, 2017-January 21, 2018.

Image: Desk, about 1838; Concord Museum Collection; Painted pine, steel; Gift of Cummings E. Davis (1886) Th10; Provenance: Henry Thoreau; Sophia Thoreau; Cummings Davis.


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