LONDONDERRY — A Dunbarton professor who spent two decades directing an art history tour program for American soldiers living in Europe will share his travel tales with local audiences during an appearance at the Leach Library this month.
Andrew Laurie Stangel, who now teaches art history at the University of New Hampshire's Manchester campus, will present "Treasures of the Vatican" in the library's lower level meeting room on Jan. 16.
Stangel, a native of California who moved to New Hampshire with his wife, Audrey, in the early 1990s, said introducing audiences to the many works of art housed in the Vatican Museum never gets old.
In 1974, Stangel was living in Germany after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA and earning his doctorate, when he founded the Art History Tours program for the United States Armed Forces in Europe.
"Those were the years I'd spend between 250 to 300 days on the road giving tours and lectures," he recalled.
Over the years, the European history, art and culture expert spent countless hours inside the Vatican Museum, where he photographed hundreds of examples of Greek, Roman and early Christian art, as well as frescoes by Raphael and Michelangelo.
Located in Italy's Vatican City, the museums were founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century to showcase an immense art collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church over the centuries.
"He was the greatest supporter of the arts," Stangel said of the early Pope. "He's even said to have bullied Michelangelo up onto the scaffolding inside the Sistine Chapel."
A lifelong teacher, Stangel said his life's philosophy echoes the words of Chaucer: "Gladly what I learn I will gladly teach."
Though life has now taken him to the Granite State, Stangel returns to Europe each spring and summer to lead travel groups on art history tours.
This April he's leading a tour of Paris and in July, for the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, he'll be heading to Berlin.
Guests on the Parisian trip will be treated to guided tours of the Louvre Museum, the Musee d'Orsay, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, while highlights of the Berlin trip will include visits to Museum Island, the Gallery of Paintings and the German Historical Museum.
Staff at the local library said they're excited about Stangel's upcoming visit.
"Treasures of the Vatican" will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is free, though seating is limited to the first 90 attendees. Light refreshments will be served.