In 2009, when I was a freshman in college, I went to France and Germany at the end of a year-long seminar exploring the emergence of European nationalism after 1848. As I majored in History and Art History & Archaeology, this class was right up my alley, so to speak. And not to mention, we traveled to Paris and Berlin!

Naturally, we spent one day exploring the Louvre museum. I was ecstatic to see some of the world’s most revered works of the art. I now had the opportunity to see with my own eyes the very pieces that I had spent hours studying and analyzing. One of the first pieces I sought out was a work by Sandro Botticelli–I believe it was Venus and the Three Graces. I stood there mesmerized and soon realized I was crying.

Something clicked for me that day. Perhaps it was the fact that this fresco had survived centuries and, despite its cracks, continued to inspire awe and contemplation. These figures still conveyed such beauty and grace. For me, it was the realization that these works, whose reproductions in textbooks seemed so two-dimensional, were tangible items created by human hands and genius. I carry that understanding and respect with me today, especially as I handle artifacts in museums and archives or read original primary source documents.

– Lindsey Waldenberg (Ph.D. Student)