Magna Carta

Lincoln Cathedral Exemplar, 1215
Iron gall ink on parchment. Lincoln Cathedral, England [Image © Lincolnshire County Council]

Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution

September 6–November 2, 2014

Throughout history, certain documents have been issued to claim or establish rights and to check abuses of power. To many people, the medieval English document known as Magna Carta, or The Great Charter, has become a potent symbol of political liberty and justice. In particular, the political leaders of the British colonies in America looked to Magna Carta as precedent for the development of charters and laws in their new realm. Over the centuries, the demands that government provide fair and just treatment to citizens have expanded far beyond the narrow slice of society protected by Magna Carta. Great strides have been made toward ensuring equality under the law and justice for all people, but the quest continues to this day, both in the United States and around the globe.

This exhibition brings together six important documents significant to American history and spanning more than eight centuries: Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution has been organized by the Clark Art Institute, in partnership with Lincoln Cathedral—Bringing Magna Carta to the USA. It is generously supported by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the officers and employees of Allen & Company, Inc., the Gilder Foundation, and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

September 7, 3 pm: Living with Magna Carta
September 18, 5 pm: Radical Words: Material Worlds
October 2, 5 pm: Radical Rewording: Olympe de Gouge's Declaration of the Rights of Women in the French Revolution
October 5, 3 pm: Magna Carta as Good Governance: Environmental Rights as Citizen Rights
October 9, 5 pm: Radical Encoding: Seeing Is Remembering
October 16, 5 pm: Radical Words Speaker Series (speaker to be announced)
November 2, 1 pm: Freedom Family Day