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Donna Bilak

Part-time Faculty
(212) 992-6313
1 Wash Pl, Room 431

Office Hours
Monday Remote by Appointment
Tuesday Remote by Appointment
Wednesday Remote by Appointment
Thursday Remote by Appointment
Friday Remote by Appointment

Advanced Diploma, Jewellery Arts, George Brown College of Applied Arts and Technology, 1994
M.A., History, York University, 2003
M.Phil., Cultural History, Bard Graduate Center, 2008
Ph.D., Cultural History, Bard Graduate Center, 2014

Donna Bilak is a historian of early modern science and a goldsmith. Bilak’s research areas as a historian and maker encompass early modern alchemy and laboratory technologies; alchemical reconstructions of artificial gemstones; jewelry, industry, and environmental toxicity; sustainable jewelry advocacy.   Bilak’s academic and studio work intersect in the interdisciplinary project she currently directs “Gold & Mercury: Amalgamated Histories in Chemistry, Culture, and Environment” forthcoming in 2023 as a Special Issue in AMBIX: The Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Early Chemistry. This academic project relates to Bilak’s ethical fine jewelry line (   Bilak is committed to open-access publication. Together with Tara Nummedal, Bilak co-edited Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary (University of Virginia Press, 2020). This born-digital publication presents the summa of Bilak’s research into this remarkable musical alchemical emblem book, featuring the multi-disciplinary community of scholars and performers Bilak created around the project:



Furnace and Fugue Book

Donna Bilak, along with Tara Nummedal, co-edited the book Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier's Atalanta fugiens (1618).

Teaching and Research Interests

history of early modern science and alchemy; emblematics; jewelry history and craft technology; cultural heritage

Recent News


Donna Bilak is the director of Gold & Mercury: Amalgamated Histories in Chemistry, Culture and Environment, a collaborative research project that examines how the metals have worked their way through cultures, environments, and bodies.  


Donna Bilak and Ivo Purš were invited to speak virtually at “Artifex in opere: Michael Maier’s self-representation in Atalanta fugiens (1618)” as part of “De re vestiaria. Antiquity and Fashion” in the Renaissance Palazzo Mocenigo–Centro Studi di Storia del Tessuto e del Costume in May 2021.

Bilak served as a virtual panelist at “Out of the Ivy and into the Arctic: Pedagogy and Reconstruction in Cross-Cultural Contexts” at “Making and Knowing II: Teaching through Reconstruction Outside the Academy,” the 2021 annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America held virtually in April.

Bilak and Loren Ludwig gave “Sonic Emblems & Magic Squares: Atalanta fugiens and Ludic Humanism in the 21st Century,” a virtual seminar hosted at the University of Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology in November of 2020.

Bilak, Loren Ludwig, and Tara Nummedal spoke virtually at the “Work in Progress Seminar: Tear Up Your Books”: Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens in the 21st Century” at The Warburg Institute at the University of London in October 2020.

Donna Bilak