For the safety of our visitors and staff, the MFAH continues to require face masks/coverings. Advance timed tickets are recommended.

The David B. Warren Symposium


This biennial symposium addresses different aspects of the theme “American Material Culture and the Texas Experience.” 

One of the greatest cultural treasures in the state of Texas, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is renowned for its superb collection of American and Texas decorative arts and paintings. Established by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, to honor Bayou Bend’s founding director emeritus, the David B. Warren Symposium has been presented biennially since 2007. Each symposium addresses different aspects of the theme “American Material Culture and the Texas Experience.” The goal is an ongoing forum that examines pre-1900 Texas, as well as the Lower South and Southwest, through the lens of American material culture.

2021 David B. Warren Symposium

The Power of Place: Defining Material Culture in Pre-1900 Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest
Friday, Saturday & Sunday / February 26, 27 & 28

Explore how the interaction of place with race, ethnicity, and gender has shaped our shared history. This free, virtual symposium presents thought-provoking papers from a slate of historians and curators.

Presentations are live, free of charge, via Zoom.
Advance registration is highly recommended. Sign up only once, and you can access all the time slots using the same meeting link.

SCHEDULE

Friday, February 26
6:30 p.m.
• Welcome & Keynote Address
“As Far as the Eye Could See: The Bugbees, from New England to the West Texas Plains”
Speaker: Michael Grauer, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City

Saturday, February 27
10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.       
• “‘A Very Valuable Man’: Enslaved Builders and the Making of Texas” 
Speaker: Tara Dudley, the University of Texas at Austin

1 p.m. to 3 p.m.            
• “The Magisterial Gaze in Slave Territory: Henry Cheever Pratt’s Coons Rancho as Plantation Painting”
Speaker: Alexis Monroe, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

• “The Material Culture and Cultural Landscape of the Polley Mansion, Whitehall”
Speaker: Melinda Creech, independent scholar

• “William J. Frederich’s Scrapbook: A Palimpsest of the Visual Landscape of a Galveston Man in the 1880s”
Speaker: Olivia Armandroff, University of Southern California

Sunday, February 28
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.            
• “New Orleans’s Place in the Mahogany Trade”
Speaker: Lydia Blackmore, the Historic New Orleans Collection

• “Gaineswood Geography: How Commerce Routes and Climate Shaped Life on an Alabama Plantation”
Speaker: Sarah Duggan, the Historic New Orleans Collection

• Panel Discussion & Conclusion

More Information
Contact Joey Milillo, Bayou Bend programs manager: jmilillo@mfah.org

History of the David B. Warren Symposium

The inaugural David B. Warren Symposium, “American Material Culture and the Texas Experience,” was presented by Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, on February 9 & 10, 2007. David B. Warren delivered the keynote address, “A Gift of Love: Miss Ima Hogg’s Quest to Bring Americana to Texas.” The second symposium, “American Material Culture and the Texas Experience, Part 2” was presented October 30–31, 2009. The first two symposia placed the pre-1900 material culture of Texas, the lower South, and the Southwest within a national and international context, establishing a tradition that future symposia would follow.

The third biennial David B. Warren Symposium, “The Civil War and the Material Culture of Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest,” was held October 28–30, 2011, and commemorated the sesquicentennial of the start of the American Civil War. The fourth symposium, “Itinerant and Immigrant Artists and Artisans in 19th-Century Texas,” took place October 25–27, 2013, and acknowledged the contributions of foreign-born craftsmen, photographers, and artists to the material culture of the Lone Star State. The fifth symposium, October 23–25, 2015, focused on “Creators and Consumers: Women and Material Culture and Visual Art in 19th-Century Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest.”

In 2017, the symposium moved the presentation of papers from October to February 24–25 with the sixth installment, “Traditions in Transition: Change and Material Culture in 19th-Century Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest.” The seventh symposium, “A Diverse History: Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest before 1900,” February 22–23, 2019, sought to examine the diversity of cultures influencing 19th-century art in Texas and the South.

The David B. Warren Symposium is made possible with generous support from the David B. Warren Symposium Endowment; Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; Nancy Glanville Jewell; and The Summerlee Foundation.