Massachusetts Center For Renaissance Studies at UMass Amherst Celebrates Opening Oct. 30-31

AMHERST, Mass. - The Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies at the University of Massachusetts will celebrate its formal opening and dedication with a series of events to take place Fri. and Sat. Oct. 30-31 at the Dakin House at 650 East Pleasant St. in Amherst.

The grand opening will take place Fri. Oct. 30 from 2-5 p.m. Events include exhibitions from special collections, tours of the center, and strolls through the private walking trails on the grounds. In attendance will be UMass President William M. Bulger; Thomas W. Copeland Professor of Literary History Arthur F. Kinney, center director; and Dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts Lee Edwards. All events are free and open to the public.

The formal dedication for the center will take place Sat. Oct. 31 from 2-4 p.m. Scheduled events include performances of original musical compositions by UMass music professors Fred Tillis (emeritus) and Charles Bestor, with UMass music professor Robert Eisenstein conducting. In addition, UMass English professor G. Stanley Koehler (emeritus) will read his poetry, and University theater professor Doris Abramson (emeritus) will read poetry from the Renaissance. There will also be readings of original work by playwrights from England and Ireland. The performances and readings are by invitation only.

Primarily a research facility for scholars and qualified students who make use of the more than 16,000 rare books, manuscripts, and monographs that are stored in its archives, the center also houses graduate and undergraduate classes in English, history, art history, theater, and Spanish. It is located in the former Dakin House, a 1948 structure built in the style of a Cotswolds cottage, which sits in a wooded area that faces onto a 26-acre meadow. Among the many artworks on display at the center are an ivory carving of Christ dating from around 1560; a manuscript begun in 1520 which records the founding and history of the Order of the Sisters of St. Clare in Spain; a detailed report of provincial Spanish governance in a formal letter to the Pope written in the late 16th century; a collection of vellum-bound books of poetics published in the 16th and 17th centuries in Italy (donated by the late director of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and his wife); a leaf of a French Book of Hours inscribed around 1350; and the entire St. Thomas More Collection, which includes all of the papers, rare books, and secondary materials used in the preparation of the "Works of St. Thomas More" for the Yale University Press. In addition, the center contains rare books and libraries worth nearly a million dollars, donated by more than a dozen UMass professors.

Public tours of the facilities can be arranged by calling the center at 413/577-3600.