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Published: Wednesday, 10/8/2008

Art museum, library team up for special Madonnas program

BY TAHREE LANE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A book discussion at the library paired with a Toledo Museum of Art tour will be based on The Madonnas of Leningrad, an intriguing novel by Debra Dean.

Called Pen to Palette, the program invites people to read the book, which takes place largely during World War II when Leningrad was invaded and held by German troops for 900 days, putting the great works of art in the Hermitage Museum at risk.

It centers on an elderly Russian woman who was a docent at the museum but is losing her memory to Alzheimer s disease.

The book is multi-layered even though it s an easy read, said Dianne Klein, docent coordinator of secondary and university programs at the Toledo Museum of Art.

A librarian-led book discussion, for which registration is required, will be 7 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 20 in the humanities department of the Main Branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.

That will be followed, at 7 p.m. Oct. 24, with an hour-long docent-led tour of works of art that have a Madonna theme at the museum, as well as paintings that connect to the book, said Klein. One museum gallery is devoted to Madonna paintings dating from the late medieval and Renaissance periods, she noted.

Participants will receive a list of the dozens of art pieces mentioned in the novel so they can read, see, and compare, said Klein. What we want them to do is appreciate the novel, the discussion, and the art of the Toledo Museum of Art.

Klein got the idea for the discussion and tour after reading the novel in one of her book clubs and then giving club members a related museum tour.

Another Pen to Palette discussion/tour event is being planned for the spring, she said.

Book-inspired tours have enjoyed popularity in recent years, notably European tours based on bestsellers The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, and tours of Savannah in the wake of John Berendt s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Parking is free at both the library and the museum for those who register by 5 p.m. Oct. 20. Registration: 419-259-5218.

Contact Tahree Lane at: tlane@theblade.com or 419-724-6075.



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