Houghton Library’s newest exhibition — “From Rhubarb to Rubies: European Travels to Safavid Iran (1550-1700)” — explores European travel to Safavid Iran in the years 1550 to 1700, a time marked by significant cultural and scientific exchange between the two regions. Instead of a strained association, the West and Iran looked at one another with curiosity, and travelers from all over Europe — diplomats, missionaries, scholars, merchants, craftsmen, and adventurers — visited Iran. This exhibition examines the reasons Europeans traveled there, what they brought home, and how they shared their impressions and experiences. In addition to books, maps, prints, and miniatures from Houghton’s collection — like this image of a royal hunting scene from a manuscript of poet Afzal al-Din Khaqani — the exhibition includes selected instruments, plants, animals, and minerals from other Harvard collections, including the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard Museum of Natural History, and Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.
“From Rhubarb to Rubies: European Travels to Safavid Iran” runs through Aug. 16 in the Edison and Newman Room at Houghton Library. The related exhibit “The Lands of the Sophi: Iran in Early Modern European Maps (1550-1700)” also runs through Aug. 16 in the Harvard Map Collection Gallery, Pusey Library.
Houghton Library is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Pusey Library is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.