Marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11, arts and cultural organizations at the University and in the Princeton community this fall are hosting a series of exhibitions, performances, and lectures centered on the idea of memory. The series, called “Memory and the Work of Art,” aims to explore how the arts shape our collective memory of the past and how they help us understand history writ large. The investigation asks how art can decipher loss and inform our experience of major cultural and societal events.

Organizers didn’t want the theme of the collaboration to be “overtly about 9/11,” because they knew that many groups in New York City would plan remembrance events, explained James C. Steward, the director of the Princeton University Art Museum and a leader of the initiative. Instead, “we wanted to come at it more obliquely,” he said.

The organizations involved include the Lewis Center for the Arts, the University Art Museum, the music department, the Arts Council of Princeton, McCarter Theatre, and the Princeton Public Library.

The events started last winter, though most of them are taking place this fall. Among them are a Princeton Symphony Orchestra performance featuring works by Sergei Rachmaninoff and Edward T. Cone ’39 that exemplify how the memories of composers and other artists shape the creative process; a public-library event featuring a Nazi concentration-camp survivor and his son, who will discuss how that experience is passed down to younger generations; a new play at McCarter, Phaedra Backwards, by the Irish playwright Marina Carr that is an adaptation of the classic Phaedra myth; and an art museum exhibit, “The Life and Death of Buildings”(see below).

Anchoring the program, said ­Steward, is a series of public lectures by the artist Christian Boltanski, the architect Maya Lin, the neuroscientist Eric Kandel, and the novelist Nicole Krauss, who examine the question of memory.

“Things Go On” Sept. 22, 6 p.m.
Artist Christian Boltanski in conversation with biographer and critic Mark Stevens ’73
Lewis Center for the Arts, 185 Nassau St.

“Time and Memory” Oct. 4, 6 p.m.
Architect Maya Lin, Belknap Visitor in the Humanities
Richardson Auditorium

“The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the ­Unconscious in Art, Psychology and Brain from Vienna 1900 to the Present” Nov. 10, 4:30 p.m.
Neuroscientist Eric Kandel
McCosh 50

“Writing ‘The History of Love’” Nov. 15, 6:30 p.m.
Author Nicole Krauss
Richardson Auditorium

For a complete list of events, go to