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Gallery Talk—Objects of Addiction: Opium, Empire, and the Chinese Art Trade

October 18, 2023 @ 12:30 pm - 1:00 pm

 |  FREE


October 18, 2023
12:30 pm - 1:00 pm
Event Categories:


Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy St
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States


Harvard Art Museums
(617) 495-9400

A print showing three red and purple opium poppy plants and their roots, with their Latin names below.

Basilius Besler, German, Papaver multiplex albumoris rubicundis, Papaver flore miniato pleno, Papaver flore plenoargentei coloris (plate 293), from Hortus Eystettensis, 1613 or 1713. Hand-colored print. Economic Botany Library of Oakes Ames, Harvard University, Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection, TL42499.4. 

This event requires registration; see further details below.

Join curator Sarah Laursen for a closer look at artworks in the exhibition Objects of Addiction: Opium, Empire, and the Chinese Art Trade (September 15, 2023–January 14, 2024). The exhibition explores the entwined histories of the opium trade and the Chinese art market between the late 18th and early 20th centuries. Laursen will share how these two commodities—acquired through both legal and illicit means—have had a lasting impact on the global economy, public health, immigration law, education, and the arts.

Led by:
Sarah Laursen, Alan J. Dworsky Associate Curator of Chinese Art, Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art

Gallery talks are limited to 18 people and registration is required. You can register by clicking on the event on this form, beginning at 10am the day of the talk.

Please meet in the Calderwood Courtyard, in front of the digital screens between the shop and the admissions desk.

The Harvard Art Museums are now offering free admission every day, Tuesday through Sunday. Please see the museum visit page to learn about our general policies for visiting the museums.

Support for Objects of Addiction: Opium, Empire, and the Chinese Art Trade is provided by the Alexander S., Robert L., and Bruce A. Beal Exhibition Fund; the Robert H. Ellsworth Bequest to the Harvard Art Museums; the Harvard Art Museums’ Leopold (Harvard M.B.A. ’64) and Jane Swergold Asian Art Exhibitions and Publications Fund and an additional gift from Leopold and Jane Swergold; the José Soriano Fund; the Anthony and Celeste Meier Exhibitions Fund; the Gurel Student Exhibition Fund; the Asian Art Discretionary Fund; the Chinese Art Discretionary Fund and the Rabb Family Exhibitions Fund. Related programming is supported by the M. Victor Leventritt Lecture Series Endowment Fund. Additional support for this project is provided by the Dunhuang Foundation.

The Harvard Art Museums are committed to accessibility for all visitors. For anyone requiring accessibility accommodations for our programs, please contact us at am_register@harvard.edu at least 48 hours in advance.