Mercer to Host Inaugural Frances Sewell Plunkett Lecture Series


MACON — Mercer University's College of Liberal Arts will host the Inaugural Frances Sewell Plunkett Lecture Series in the Decorative Arts on April 3-4. The event will feature three lectures by Robert A. Leath, chief curator and vice president of collections and research at Old Salem Museums and Gardens, in the Medical School Auditorium at Mercer. All lectures are free and open to the public.

The series kicks off Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. with Leath's lecture, titled “50 Years of Refighting the Civil War: An Introduction to the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.” On Thursday, at 11 a.m., he will speak on “Thistles and Pineapples: The Scottish Influence on Southern Furniture, 1730-1830,” and, at 6:30 p.m., he will present “Scarlett Has an iPad: New Directions in Southern Decorative Arts.”

At the Old Salem Museums and Gardens, Leath oversees the collections, library and research center at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and the collections displayed at historic sites throughout Old Salem. He has published his work in numerous journals and magazines and is an advisor on historic furnishings for James Madison's Montpelier and Stratford Hall Plantation. He serves on advisory boards for the Charleston Art and Antiques Forum and the New Orleans Antiques Forum.

Prior to joining the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Leath served as curator of historic interiors for ColonialWilliamsburg Foundation, creating the furnishings plans for 14 historic sites that included the Governor's Palace, the Capitol, Wetherburn's Tavern, Peyton Randolph House, George Wythe House, Thomas Everard House and the Public Gaol. From 1999 to 2000, he was curator of collections and restoration for George Washington's Fredericksburg Foundation, planning the restoration of Kenmore, the circa 1774 house of George Washington's brother-in-law and sister, Fielding and Betty Washington Lewis. From 1991 to 1999, Leath was assistant curator for Historic Charleston Foundation and coordinated the restoration and refurnishing of the 1808 Nathaniel Russell House.

Leath has lectured on historic architecture and decorative arts in the South for museums and organizations such as the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; American Ceramics Circle; American Friends of Attingham; Charleston Art and Antiques Forum; Natchez Antiques Forum; and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Antiques Forum.

About Mercer University

Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,300 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah – and four regional academic centers across the state. The Mercer Health Sciences Center launched July 1, 2012, and includes the University's medical, nursing and pharmacy schools and will add a fourth college – the College of Health Professions – on July 1, 2013. Mercer is affiliated with four teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The University also has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. It operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program.

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