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On Thursday, April 2, 2015, at 4PM, Jay Robert Stiefel, a lawyer and well-known collector and historian of American decorative arts, will give a lecture entitled “Leather Apron Men: Benjamin Franklin & Philadelphia’s Artisans” at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. The event, which is under the auspices of Yale's History Department, is free and open to the public.

The illustrated talk will center on Benjamin Franklin’s work as an artisan as well as his role in fostering the public appreciation of his fellow craftsmen. One of America’s foremost founding fathers and the country’s first printing magnate, Franklin tended toward self-deprecation, writing in a 1740 issue of his “Pennsylvania Gazette” that he was no more than “a poor ordinary mechanick of this City.” But Franklin, who crafted witty editorial that promoted and encouraged his fellow artisans and founded such enduring cultural institutions as the Library Company of Philadelphia and the American Philosophical Society, served as a role model for his peers. In addition to encouraging many Philadelphia artisans to elevate themselves, Franklin provided them with opportunities for education that had previously been reserved for the privileged. Stiefel will illustrate Franklin’s profound influence with pieces of furniture and fine art, including “Handiworks” made by Franklin and other admired Philadelphia artisans.

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The Louvre announced that it will reopen its 18th-century decorative arts galleries on June 6 following an eight-year restoration and reinstallation. The Parisian museum’s sweeping collection of more than 2,000 decorative objects will be dispersed among 35 newly-renovated galleries in the north wing of the Louvre’s Cour Carrée. The galleries, which boast 23,000 square feet of exhibition space, were originally expected to reopen last year. Before this extensive restoration, the galleries had not been significantly updated since they were installed in 1966.

The Louvre’s collection of royal furniture, decorative bronzes, rugs, tapestries, gold and silver ware, porcelain, jewelry, and scientific instruments, will be grouped into three stylistic movements: the reign of Louis XIV and the Regency (1660-1725), Rococo (1725-1755), and the return of classicism and the reign of Louis XVI (1755-1790). The galleries also feature a number of period rooms including a drawing room from the nearby Hôtel de Villemaré, which was acquired by the Louvre in the 1800s but has never before been displayed in its entirety. Before being reconstructed in the museum, the room underwent a lengthy conservation.

Jannic Durand, director of the department of decorative arts at the Louvre, said in a statement, “We wanted to achieve a happy medium between period rooms and exhibition galleries. Each object benefits from being in relationship with other objects. In some cases, this means creating a period room so our visitors can understand how people lived with these objects or so they can appreciate holistically the elegance and refinement of the 18th century. In other instances, it means curating display cases devoted entirely to porcelain, silverware, and even some pieces of furniture to underscore the history of techniques and styles.”

The Louvre worked with the celebrated interior designer Jacques Garcia to create the new spaces for its collection of 18th-century decorative arts. The project was funded entirely by the patrons of the museum, including a $4 million donation from the American Friends of the Louvre.

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