French drawing room at Hillwood


Enjoy enriching and educational programming year-round.

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Passion of the Empress Symposium

Symposium Agenda

11 am Welcome

Kate Markert, Executive Director of Hillwood Estate, Museum, & Gardens

Anton Fedyashin, Executive Director, Initiative for Russian Culture, American University


11:10 am Opening Session

Prof. Anton Fedyashin, Catherine the Great and the European Enlightenment

Professor Fedyashin will introduce different aspects of the Age of Reason and Russia’s role during the Enlightenment.

Dr. Priscilla Roosevelt, Catherine II, Architect of a New Russia

Independent scholar Dr. Roosevelt will discuss the role and impact of architecture, public spectacle, and theater in Catherine's reign

Paper by Prof. Cynthia Hyla Whittaker, Catherine the Great’s Cameo Fever

Emerita professor at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of NY, Cynthia Hyla Whittaker has examined Catherine’s obsession with engraved gems and her collecting of them. This paper will be presented in absentia by Dr. Scott Ruby.


12: 30-2:15 pm Break for Lunch and Touring

45 minute docent-led tours of the Hillwood Mansion are available at 12:30 and 1:15pm. American University students should attend the 12:30 tour.

You may also tour the Passion of the Empress exhibition in the Dacha. Dr. Ruby will be on hand to answer questions from 1:00-2:00.


2:15-3:30 Tea and Roundtable Discussion with the Speakers, Moderated by Prof. Eric Lohr and Dr. Scott Ruby

Ask the experts questions about Catherine’s period and the objects featured in the exhibition.