University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Physical Exhibits in Special Collections

The Department of Special Collections regularly presents thematic exhibits of materials from its holdings in the Special Collections Exhibit Room, 102 Hesburgh Library, and on our Web site. Please follow the links in the menu at left for more information about our exhibits and exhibition schedule.

Currently on Display

Sacred Music at Notre Dame: the Voice of the Text

February 27 - July 31, 2015

Graphic for the exhibit.

This exhibition highlights the variety of medieval liturgical manuscripts and fragments housed in the University of Notre Dame's Hesburgh Library which contain music. The manuscripts featured date from the eleventh through fifteenth century, and originate from various regions in France, Germany, Austria, and Italy. Some examples represent specific uses such as Carthusian monks or Dominican nuns. Other manuscripts in this exhibit were recovered from book bindings, and serve as examples of older practices which may no longer exist in complete manuscripts.


Rare Books & Special Collections
102 Hesburgh Library,
at the west end of the 1st Floor Concourse

Open to the public:

9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday

The exhibit is curated by Dr. David T. Gura (RBSC Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts, Early Imprints & the History of the Book).

For information on other exhibits currently on display eslewhere in the University Libraries, please refer to the Libraries exhibits page.

Spotlight Exhibits

In honor of National Preservation Month, the RBSC has installed two spotlight exhibits celebrating the amazing work of our conservators.

The Conservation of Captain Francis O'Neill's Music Manuscripts

Photograph of the display.

May 2015

Our May spotlight exhibit, curated by Liz Dube and Sue Donovan, showcases the treatment of two music manuscripts from the Captain Francis O'Neill collection. The manuscripts are the only two of their kind in the collection, and they were in poor condition after years of handling. Their treatment involved stabilizing the bindings and mending and resewing the text, which can be a time-consuming procedure, but which was rationalized by the items' importance in the collection and in RBSC.

In the exhibit, the use of photographs together with the actual manuscripts allows the observer to see the condition of the items before treatment contrasted with the condition after treatment.


A "Behind-the-Scenes" Look at the Conservation Lab

Photograph of the display.

Summer 2015

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the conservation lab, or what is Preservation? This exhibit seeks to address your curiosity by displaying some of the main tools and materials used in the lab to repair both General and Special Collections—such as a finishing press and scuba diving weights. You can also see a book in three different stages of treatment—before, during, and after.

Questions about conservation are encouraged and you can direct them to our Tumblr page


For information about previous spotlight exhibits, please refer to the History of Spotlight Exhibits page.

Upcoming Exhibits

Fall 2015

Early Modern Germany

January 2016

Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night. These celebrated plays and 15 others by Shakespeare would probably have been lost to us today without the First Folio, the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays. We have been selected as a host site for the Folger Shakespeare Library's national tour of the First Folio in 2016, so you'll have an opportunity to see this famous book up close.

Spring 2016

Centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland

Suggest an Exhibit

Many of the exhibits presented by the Department of Special Collections are produced in collaboration with members of the Notre Dame teaching and research faculty and are scheduled to coincide with significant academic conferences at the University. If you have a suggestion for a future exhibit and/or would like to assist in producing one, please contact Special Collections at 631-0290 or by e-mail.