Charting the Course of Knowledge with Alexander von Humboldt

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Wagner Free Institute of Science

1700 West Montgomery Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19121

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Weeknights at the Wagner: Charting the Course of Knowledge with Alexander von Humboldt

an illustrated lecture by Sandra Rebok, Ph.D.

Copresented with the German Society of Pennsylvania and Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

For his 250th birthday, join worldwide celebrations of the great Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. While he is less known today, in the 19th century, his expeditions--across North and South America, within Europe, and to the Ural Mountains of Asia--enthralled kings, scientists, and the public. In pursuit of knowledge, Humboldt scaled mountains, navigated rivers, and even experimented with electric eels. These explorations were often supported by European governments seeking data on their territories in the 18th and 19th centuries.

However, Humboldt was equally passionate about sharing scientific knowledge. In his North American travels, he was impressed by the way how citizens in the United States were made participants in the ongoing process of scientific discovery. After his return to Berlin in 1827, Humboldt gave a series of free public Cosmos lectures to explain scientific concepts and the development of scientific thinking to a broad audience. Thousands of people attended, and the public's enthusiasm encouraged him to write the massive, synthesizing Cosmos series of books. At his death, he was writing the fifth volume. This talk will give an overview of Humboldt, his American expedition, and his larger scientific mission, then focus on his work to make science accessible to the larger public, beyond scholarly circles and beyond the borders of nations.

Essai sur la géographie des plantes : accompagné d'un tableau physique des régions équinoxiales, fondé sur des mesures exécutées, depuis le dixième degré de latitude boréale jusqu'au dixième degré de latitude australe, pendant les années 1799, 1800, 1801, 1802 et 1803

Museum open until the talk begins at 6 p.m. Registration is free, but donations ($5 suggested) are welcome at the door!



About Dr. Sandra Rebok:

Sandra Rebok, Ph.D. is a historian of science, author and scientific consultant. She spent most of her career at the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid and was a Marie Curie Fellow from 2013 to 2016. Her research and publications focus on history of knowledge and globalization of science, cultural transfers and intellectual networks, as well as transnational scientific collaborations during the nineteenth century. She has over twenty years of experience in Alexander von Humboldt scholarship; she is the author of several books and numerous articles on Humboldt, and the editor of three of his works in Spanish. Her new monograph, Humboldt’s Empire of Knowledge: From the Royal Spanish Court to the White House will be published in 2020, and she is at work on her next book, Expanding the Frontiers of American Science: Alexander von Humboldt’s Networks of Knowledge.

Main image: “Planche 41: Volcans d’air de Turbaco” Vues des Cordilleres et Monumens des Peuples Indigenes de l’Amerique. Auguste Bouquet, Alexander von Humboldt. F. Schoel, Paris: 1810.

Body image: Essai sur la géographie des plantes : accompagné d'un tableau physique des régions équinoxiales, fondé sur des mesures exécutées, depuis le dixième degré de latitude boréale jusqu'au dixième degré de latitude australe, pendant les années 1799, 1800, 1801, 1802 et 1803. Humboldt, Alexander von, and Bonpland, Aimé. Image c/o Missouri Botanical Garden.

FAQs

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

From I-76 or I–95, take 676 to the Broad Street exit. Follow Broad north to Norris Street (look for Temple University’s red banners). Turn left on Norris, go three blocks to 17th Street, make a left and follow 17th Street one block to Montgomery Avenue. On street parking is available on Montgomery Avenue, in front of the museum and nearby, as well as on surrounding streets (some is metered and/or two-hour). Garage parking is available at Temple’s Liacouras Center; the garage entrance is on 15th Street, below Montgomery Avenue.

The closest SEPTA Regional Rail station is Temple University (a 15-minute walk from the Wagner). If you are coming from within the city, you can take the Broad Street subway (Orange Line - LOCAL only) to Temple University/Cecil B. Moore Avenue. Walk one block north to Montgomery Avenue, three blocks west to 17th Street.

By bus: The number 2 SEPTA bus stops at 16th Street and Montgomery Avenue heading north or 17th Street and Montgomery Avenue heading south.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

No, we do not need to see your ticket at the door.

Is it ok if the name on my ticket or registration doesn't match the person who attends?

Yes. Walk-ins are welcome unless preregistration is at capacity for the lecture hall, so you do not need to transfer your ticket. However, we do encourage you to preregister if you will attend and cancel your preregistration if you cannot attend to make our check-in process faster.

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Wagner Free Institute of Science

1700 West Montgomery Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19121

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