by Emily Beck & Leigh Bachman
The Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine houses a premier collection of rare books, journals, manuscripts, and artifacts that date back as far as the 15th century. Each year, texts and artifacts are featured in exhibits that are free and open to the public.
As the library prepares to move into the new Health Sciences Education Center (HSEC), staff have been thinking about how to best use the new exhibition space, which will be vastly different from what is available in their current Diehl Hall location.
“In its new second floor location, visitors to the Wangensteen Historical Library will be welcomed with floor to ceiling glass cases that will be used to highlight collection content,” explains Emily Beck, Assistant Curator.
Gathering input with a charrette
Inspired by the feedback approach taken by museums and fine arts organizations, the library recently hosted a charrette for its community.
A charrette is designed as a visioning session in which a diverse group of stakeholders come together to imagine how an organization might shift itself to be better for its users.
“We invited people from all over campus, including individuals who have and have not visited the Wangensteen Historical Library in the past,” said Beck, who noted that about 20 people attended the Library’s charrette.
“Our guests shared ideas about involving students in the library through their coursework, expanding exhibits into surrounding areas as pop-ups, and partnering with others to expand the reach of exhibit content and bring the history of medicine into conversations about the state of health care today.”
Over the years, the Wangensteen Historical Library has hosted a variety of exhibits that illuminate its collection — from the connection of fermentation and health to an exploration of health and wellness in Downton Abbey.
Beck is excited about the opportunities that the new space will provide to showcase the world-renowned collection.
“We’re looking forward to transforming our approach to exhibits in our new space, and we plan to have more charrettes and meetings about this space in the future.”