Take a sneak video peek at our current exhibit, The Best from Pen and Press, which includes 3,000-year-old cuneiform tablets, a 16th century “Remembrancer Scroll,” and much more.

The materials come from the James Ford Bell Library, the Wangensteen Historical Library, and the University Libraries’ Rare Book collections.

The exhibits — located in two galleries at Andersen Library and at the Wangensteen Historical Library — focus on the “best” rare and unique books and manuscripts drawn from Minnesota institutions and individuals.

“One of the things we were hoping to accomplish with this exhibition is to bring materials out for the general public that they can see and can actually relate to,” says Marguerite Ragnow, co-curator of the exhibit and the curator of the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota. 

Materials include 3,000-year-old cuneiform

Ragnow listed a number of rare and unique items, including: 

  • Cuneiform that is more than 3,000 years old
  • A book containing a Rembrandt etching
  • William Bligh’s book that tells the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty and his 47-day open boat journey across 3,600 miles on the Pacific Ocean
  • A 1611 handwritten charter from King James of England to the emperor of Japan

Co-curator Tim Johnson talks about an English, 16th century remembrancer scroll. 

“It was put together by an official in the court — either of the queen or the king — a list of items that needed to be attended to,” Johnson says. 

Lois Hendrickson of the Wangensteen Historical Library was also a contributing curator of this multi-site exhibit.  

“We are showcasing rare medical books spanning from the 1500s through the 1800s,” says Hendrickson. “We selected materials that discuss women and midwifery, diversity in human anatomy, and the knowledge of indigenous peoples in the Americas.”

Of the many noteworthy rare books included in the Wangensteen Historical Library’s exhibit, Hendrickson shares a few of her favorites:

  • Conrad Gesner’s  Historiae Animalium (1551), considered to be the first modern zoological work.
  • Robert Burton’s The anatomy of melancholy (1621), one of the most popular books of the 17th century.
  • Jane Sharp’s The Midwives Book (1671), the first English book on midwifery published by a woman.
  • Japanese measles posters (mid 1800s), wood-cut public health posters from the Edo period reveal health attitudes on measles prevention and control (also part of our digital collections). 

“This is an exhibit that has broad appeal — from school groups to retired adults,” Johnson adds. “Everybody will find something of interest here.”

Exhibit details

WhatThe Best from Pen and Press
When: Through September 14, 2018
WhereElmer L. Andersen Library Gallery and Wallin Gallery during regular library hours; Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine.

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