WCMA: 'Cracking the Code on Numerology'

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) opens a new exhibition, "Cracking the Cosmic Code: Numerology in Medieval Art."
 
The exhibit opened on March 22.
 
According to a press release: 
 
The idea that numbers emanate sacred significance, and connect the past with the future, is prehistoric and global. Rooted in the Babylonian science of astrology, medieval Christian numerology taught that God created a well-ordered universe. Deciphering the universe's numerical patterns would reveal the Creator's grand plan for humanity, including individual fates. 
 
This unquestioned concept deeply pervaded European cultures through centuries. Theologians and lay people alike fervently interpreted the Bible literally and figuratively via number theory, because as King Solomon told God, "Thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight" (Wisdom 11:22). 
 
"Cracking the Cosmic Code" explores medieval relationships among numbers, events, and works of art. The medieval and Renaissance art on display in this exhibition from the 5th to 17th centuries—including a 15th-century birth platter by Lippo d'Andrea from Florence; a 14th-century panel fragment with courtly scenes from Palace Curiel de los Ajos, Valladolid, Spain; and a 12th-century wall capital from the Monastery at Moutiers-Saint-Jean—reveal numerical patterns as they relate to architecture, literature, gender, and timekeeping. 
 
"There was no realm of thought that was not influenced by the all-consuming belief that all things were celestially ordered, from human life to stones, herbs, and metals," said WCMA Assistant Curator Elizabeth Sandoval, who curated the exhibition. "As Vincent Foster Hopper expounds, numbers were 'fundamental realities, alive with memories and eloquent with meaning.' These artworks tease out numerical patterns and their multiple possible meanings, in relation to gender, literature, and the celestial sphere. 
 
"The exhibition looks back while moving forward: It relies on the collection's strengths in Western medieval Christianity, but points to the future with goals of acquiring works from the global Middle Ages. It also nods to the history of the gallery as a medieval period room at this pivotal time in WCMA's history before the momentous move to a new building," Sandoval said.
 
Cracking the Cosmic Code runs through Dec. 22.

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Williamstown Charter Proposal Sparks Concern over 'Separation of Powers'

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Select Board and Planning Board this week clashed over a proposal that would add to the town charter a mechanism to ensure compliance with the foundation of town government.
 
The Select Board on Monday night finalized the warrant for the annual town meeting.
 
Most of the 42 articles on the agenda for the Thursday, May 23, meeting were recommended by the Select Board for passage with little or no comment. The primary exception was Article 32, one of five articles to result from deliberations of the Charter Review Committee.
 
The review committee spent about a year and a half reviewing the 68-year-old charter, which has not received a major revision over the last seven decades.
 
In consultation with consultants from the Collins Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston and after reviewing best practices from municipalities around the commonwealth, the Charter Review Committee developed a number of recommendations to town meeting.
 
Most of the proposed revisions clarify existing charter language and bring the document in line with town practices that have evolved over the last half century (Article 30). Two of the articles resulting from the CRC are not actually charter changes at all but town bylaw proposals (Articles 33 and 34).
 
Two proposals would make substantive changes to the charter: adding a recall provision (Article 31) and creating a mechanism to enforce the charter (Article 32).
 
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