Murray to Give 70th University Lecture


Photograph: Stephen Murray.


Stephen Murray, a leading authority on Gothic architecture and Columbia faculty member, will give Columbia's 70th University Lecture, "The Power of Change in Gothic: Notre-Dame, Cathedral of Amiens," on Wed., Apr. 10, at 8:00 P.M. in Low Rotunda. He will also introduce the newly established Media Center for Art History.

Murray will address the role of change in our understanding of the design, construction and significance of the Gothic cathedral.

"The Gothic cathedral is a powerful sign of transcendent reality," said Murray. "Yet, optically it is constantly shifting and changing--eluding our understanding. Through the experience of change we may contemplate its design, construction, and meaning.

"The art historian, acting as detective, can use such changes to plot the sequence of construction and to document the artistic personality of the builders. But the challenge is also built into the cathedral which reveals itself to the visitors as a transformed reality," he said.

Murray's address will begin as a traditional art history lecture, using slides. But, he will illustrate the end of his lecture with innovative multimedia materials developed for use in the Core Curriculum's Art Humanities class. In September 1994, he brought together a group of scholars and computer specialists to create original video, computer animation and a World Wide Web site to use in teaching and discussing Amiens, the 13th-century French cathedral.

Murray has been a professor in the department of art history and archaeology at Columbia since 1986. From 1989-92, he served as the department's director of graduate studies. Recently he was named to the position of executive director of the Media Center for Art History.

Before coming to Columbia, he was a visiting professor at Harvard and from 1970-1985; he held numerous appointments at Indiana University, ultimately serving as the founding director of the School of Fine Art. Murray has written many articles and three books: Building Troyes Cathedral: The Late Gothic Campaigns; Beauvais Cathedral: Architecture of Transcendence; and most recently Notre-Dame, Cathedral of Amiens: The Power of Change in Gothic.

Currently, Murray is working on a World Wide Web project on the sculpture and portals of Amiens Cathedral. He is also turning his attentions closer to home with a book-in-progress entitled The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City.

He has received numerous honors and awards, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. In 1992, he was appointed by the French Ministry of Culture to the scientific committee charged with overseeing part of the restoration of Amiens Cathedral.

The Amiens Cathedral Imaging Project is the inaugural effort of the Media Center for Art History, founded in December 1995 with a $575,000 National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant. Amiens Cathedral is studied at Columbia in Art Humanities, a course added to the 75-year-old Core Curriculum in 1947, and required of all undergraduates. The Amiens materials, however, are designed for use beyond Columbia's Core Curriculum. In addition to other universities and colleges, the Media Center, through the multi-media materials it produces, will be connecting with primary and secondary schools throughout the country, including New York City.

The Amiens Cathedral Imaging Project was produced using Softimage software in the Digital Design Laboratory of Columbia under the supervision of Eden Muir and Rory O'Neill.

University Lectures, inaugurated in 1971, are given every year by outstanding members of the Columbia Faculty.

The Lecture is free and open to the public.


Columbia University Record -- April 5, 1996 -- Vol. 21, No. 22