Previous Exhibits: 2010-2012
Hour by Hour: Reconstructing a Medieval Breton Prayerbook
January 21 to August 16, 2013
On July 5, 2011 a fifteenth-century Book of Hours (private prayer book) was auctioned by Sotheby’s in London. Lot 113 of their Western Manuscripts and Miniatures sale sold for a modest price to an anonymous buyer. Lot 113 found its way to Germany, where it was cut apart so its leaves could be sold individually—a practice called book breaking, which is all too common. By October, numerous leaves from the manuscript were put up for auction on eBay sites in several countries by a dealer in Leipzig, Germany.
The purchase of individual leaves encourages book breaking. Thus, the Hesburgh Library does not usually buy single leaves, but exceptions are made in significant cases. Breton manuscripts are among the rarest due to the extremely small number which survive. A peculiar calendar was up for auction in February 2012, which one of the Library’s curators was able to localize positively to Vannes, Brittany ca. 1450. It is crucial that a calendar remain intact—if the months are separated important details are forever lost.
What started as an attempt to preserve an extremely rare medieval calendar became an effort to reconstruct an entire manuscript (now called Frag. III.1). This exhibit showed what this manuscript had been and what it has become.
This exhibit was curated by Dr. David T. Gura (Curator, Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts, Early Imprints & the History of the Book).
From St. Petersburg to Notre Dame: The Miraculous Journey of the Polievktov-Nikoladze Family Papers through a Century of War and Revolution
September 14, 2012 — December 14, 2012
The Polievktov-Nikoladze Family Papers, acquired by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2006-09, derive from three generations of a prominent and historically significant Georgian family (download a PDF of the family tree and exhibit highlights). The collection also includes the papers of Mikhail Polievktov, a leading historian of the St. Petersburg school of Russian history, notable among which are the transcriptions of interviews with leaders of the February Revolution, conducted in May 1917 by a commission he himself organized. The collection includes previously unexamined personal and professional correspondence, diaries, memoirs, photographs, and other manuscript formats (download a PDF of an exhibit overview).
This exhibit was curated by Natasha Lyandres, Russian and East European Studies Bibliographer.
Two speakers came to campus in connection with this exhibit and give public talks in the Special Collections Room (room 102) of the Hesburgh Library:
"Irakli Tsereteli and the February Revolution"
Rex A. Wade, University Professor of Russian and Soviet History, George Mason University.
Thursday, September 20, 5 p.m. (exhibit opening and tour at 3 p.m.)
"The Perils of Memory: Mikhail Polievktov, Self-Erasure, and the Writing of Russian History after 1917"
Gary M. Hamburg, Otto M. Behr Professor of European History, Claremont McKenna College.
Tuesday, October 23, 5 p.m. (exhibit tour prior to the lecture at 4:30 p.m.)
A planned third lecture had to be cancelled:
"A Nation within the Russian Empire: Georgia at the Turn of the Twentieth Century"
Ronald G. Suny, Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History, University of Michigan.
Tuesday, November 6, 5 p.m. (exhibit tour prior to the lecture at 4:30 p.m.)
Download a PDF version of the lectures poster.
Readers Writing Books: Annotation in Context, 1200-1600
January 30, 2012 — July 6, 2012
Texts displayed ranged from Homer to Boethius, from Roman law to the rules of Latin grammar. The exhibit's focus was on how medieval and renaissance readers interacted with and re-inscribed these texts, on how text and annotation merge (or compete) on the page. Present-day Post-Its, highlighters and electronic stickies continue a tradition of annotation illustrated here with examples of books written, printed, and subsequently written on, from the collections of the Hesburgh Libraries.
The exhibit was co-curated by Dr. David T. Gura, Curator of Ancient, Medieval & European Manuscripts, Early Imprints, and History of the Book, and David Sullivan, Librarian for Classics and Byzantine Studies.
All Roads Lead to Rome: New acquisitions relating to the Eternal City
August 22, 2011 — December 16, 2011
The proverb "All roads lead to Rome" derives from medieval Latin. It was first recorded in writing in 1175 by Alain de Lille, a French theologian and poet, whose Liber Parabolarum renders it as 'mille viae ducunt homines per saecula Romam' (a thousand roads lead men forever to Rome). The first documented English use of the proverb occurs more than two hundred years later, in Geoffrey Chaucer's Astrolabe of 1391, where it appears as 'right as diverse pathes leden diverse folk the righte way to Rome.'
The proverb's origins may relate to the Roman monument known as the Milliarium Aureum, or golden milestone, erected by Emperor Caesar Augustus in the central forum of ancient Rome. All distances in the Roman Empire were measured from this point and it was regarded as the site from which all principle roads diverged. As such, artists such as Giacomo Lauro, whose rendition of the Milliarium Aureum appears in this exhibit, often used it as a metaphor for the intensely cosmopolitan culture that has long been present in Rome.
The materials on view in this exhibit were recent purchases made through the Library Acquisitions Grant Program. Titled "All Roads Lead to Rome," this generous grant sought to strengthen the Library's scholarly holdings within the subject areas of cartography, monuments, and travel. Within these categories, interdisciplinary purchases pertaining to archaeology, music, history, and the development of the Vatican were also made. This exhibit presented a selection of these recent acquisitions that are now available for use by faculty and students within the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.
"...seduced by the beauty of the letter forms themselves."
An exploration of roman and italic typefaces before the Industrial Revolution
February 1, 2011 — August 1, 2011
Printing with movable type began in Europe in the middle of the fifteenth century with Gutenberg. The mechanics of printing remained fundamentally unchanged from their development by Gutenberg until the introduction of steam-powered rotary presses during the Industrial Revolution, over three hundred fifty years later. It was common that a small publishing house would have relatively few fonts with which they would print their books. Even larger printing families did not have readily available the vast number and variety of options that exist on today’s desktop computer. Selecting a typeface was for centuries a matter of what was in style and therefore available — a rise in the popularity of one style of typeface often led to older, less favored type being melted down to provide the raw material to cast type in the new style. The popularity of a typeface reflected the the characteristics it was perceived to embody. Letterpress faces considered in this exhibit were valued for their relationship to manuscripts hands, because of economic considerations, or due to their perceived relationship to the prevailing philosophies of their day.
This exhibit traced the stylistic shifts of printed letter forms over the three hundred years that the handpress was the method for printing books, and examined some of the societal influences that led to and informed those changes.