University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Physical Exhibits in Special Collections

Masks are required throughout the Hesburgh Library for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. This applies to all Rare Books & Special Collections spaces. All visitors to campus are required to wear masks inside campus buildings at all times until further notice.

The Special Collections reading room is currently open by appointment only, but the exhibit room and reference collection remain open to all during our regular hours (Monday - Friday, 9:30am - 4:30pm).

Rare Books and Special Collections regularly presents exhibits of 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.

Currently on Display

Graphic for the exhibit.

"Bound up with love..."
The extraordinary legacy of Father John Zahm's Dante Collection

August 23 - December 17, 2021

This year marks the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, and people around the world are celebrating the milestone. In conjunction with this anniversary, our current exhibit showcases the preeminent Dante collection held by the University of Notre Dame.

Rev. John A. Zahm, CSC, initiated the collection in 1902 with the purchase of forty-eight important early print volumes of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. This year we are celebrating the legacy of the Zahm Dante Collection, and the remarkable accumulation of rare material acquired over the past century to enhance the scholarly value of the collection.

Highlights of the exhibition include rare printings of the three crowns of Italian literature — Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio — as well as verse anthologies of poetry and other tools such as grammars and dictionaries that would have assisted 16th century readers of vernacular literature.

This exhibit was curated by Tracy Bergstrom (Curator, Italian Studies and Dante Collection), Chiara Sbordoni (Adjunct Professor in Italian, Rome Global Gateway), and Demetrio Yocum (Senior Research Associate, Center for Italian Studies). This and other exhibits within the library are generously supported by the McBrien Special Collections Endowment.

Related Events

Also in commemoration of the 700th anniversary of Dante's death, in 2021 the Center for Italian Studies and Devers Family Program in Dante Studies are hosting a series of lectures on the topic "Dante in America." During the Fall Semester, the lectures are being planned in a hybrid online and in-person format, with the first lecture Thursday, September 2, at 4:30pm.

Learn more about the series, with all event dates, title, and registration information available online.

Spotlight Exhibits

August - September 2021 | Limited Edition Photo Album of the Sistine Chapel

Despite the challenges of the last academic year and thanks, in no small part, to the generosity of our donors, Special Collections’ holdings continued to grow. This spotlight exhibit celebrates one recent gift: the three-volume limited edition photo album of the Sistine Chapel. An anonymous donor presented this magnum opus to the Hesburgh Libraries in February 2021.

This exhibit is curated by Natasha Lyandres, Head, Rare Books and Special Collections.



August - December 2021 | The Ferrell Manuscripts

The fall spotlight exhibit features six medieval manuscripts donated to the University of Notre Dame by James E. and Elizabeth J. Ferrell. The collection features a diverse group of manuscripts from the thirteenth through fifteenth century including a historiated Bible, book of hours, a tarot card, and illuminations. The Ferrell Collection can also be discovered digitally.

This exhibit is curated by David T. Gura, Ph.D. (Curator, Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts).

For more information about the collection and the exhibit, read the related blog post.



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

Upcoming Exhibits

Spring 2022

An exhibtion in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Medieval Institute

Summer 2022

Dumbarton Oaks traveling exhibit: Juggling the Middle Ages

Fall 2022

An exhibtion to celebrate 50th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame

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.