University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Physical Exhibits in Special Collections

Rare Books and Special Collections regularly displays materials from its holdings in our Exhibit Room (102 Hesburgh Library, at the west end of the 1st floor concourse) and on our Web site.

All exhibits are free and open to the public during our regular hours.

Current Exhibition

Graphic for the exhibit.

Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge

January - July, 2024

The tension between literal and figurative arrangements of space, time, and knowledge during the Middle Ages is brought to the fore through the primary objects that remain. Geography, whether real or imagined, manifests on the page to convey a variety of spatial arrangements: topography, pilgrimage, peripatetic liturgical procession, diaspora, and boundary marking. The materiality of medieval manuscript books expresses a similar reality: geographic colophons mark time and space, prayers localize devotion, and the communal memory of a journey commingled with hope and desperation survives in liturgical readings. Even the scattering of manuscript leaves through biblioclasty creates the boundary of what a book once was and what it has become.

To map the Middle Ages is to journey through the space created by the objects and the individuals who used them. If we embrace a manuscript in the totality of itself, we form a new bond and continuity with those who have come before us. The manuscripts in this installation are drawn from the collection of the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library.

This exhibition is curated by David T. Gura, PhD (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts).

This and other exhibits within the library are generously supported by the McBrien Special Collections Endowment.

Spotlight Exhibits

February-April 2024 | Scripts and Geographies of Byzantine Book Culture

The book culture of Byzantium integrates language, texts, geography, and their material realities into a continuous movement from Antiquity to the present. The texts exhibited in this spotlight show the inherent beauty of the Greek language through the visual medium of its unique writing systems throughout seven centuries (ca. 850 – 1500).

This spotlight exhibit is curated by David T. Gura, PhD (Curator of Curator, Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts, Early Modern and Modern European Manuscripts).

April-May 2024 | The Book Beautiful: A Selection from the Arts & Crafts Movement

For the months of April and May in the Spotlight exhibit case, a selection of books from the British Arts & Crafts Movement are on display. These books represent the influence of William Morris on bookbinding, calligraphy, and illumination, and feature books by the Kelmscott and Doves Presses and illuminated manuscripts by Alberto Sangorski.

This spotlight exhibit is curated by Luke Kelly (Gladys Brooks Conservation Fellow).

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

Upcoming Exhibitions

Fall 2024

100th Anniversary of the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame

Spring 2025


Fall 2025

International translations of Dante's Commedia

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.