Puzzling and amazing pieces that fit in Dance Theatre of Harlem exhibition

A centerpiece of our exhibition, Arthur Mitchell: Harlem’s Trailblazer, is a dazzling, eight foot long puzzle.

Handcrafted and painted from wood, the puzzle details the DTH’s history, Mitchell’s influence, luminaries who’ve supported the company, landmark performances and homages to ballet casts.

As puzzle maker Frank Bara notes in a video tour of the puzzle, shot a number of years ago, the puzzle celebrates the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s 20th anniversary. He completed it in 1989.

Dance Theatre of Harlem puzzle.

Visitors to RBML discuss the Dance Theatre of Harlem finds in this puzzle.

Dance Theatre of Harlem puzzle

Close up with Frank Bara’s Dance Theatre of Harlem puzzle.










In this short video clip, Bara also explains the many “easter eggs” contained in the puzzle, if you’re lucky enough to get up close and personal with it.

There’s still time to see the puzzle in the Wallach Gallery at the Lenfest Arts Center. The exhibition runs through March 11th. After that the puzzle goes back into careful storage at the RBML. Don’t miss your chance to see this artistry up close.

Exhibition | Yiddish at Columbia

As part of the launch of a new digitization project, an exhibition called “Yiddish at Columbia” will be on display in the Chang Octagon Gallery in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library from March 5 – June 15, 2018.

The Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry is a two-year project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. It include digitization of approximately 140,000 pages of interview documents containing data from the interviews.

yiddish exhibition poster

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Event | Dance Theatre of Harlem Dancers’ Panel

Saturday February 24, 2018, 1pm, Lenfest Center for the Arts

Dance Theatre of Harlem company members in front of Church of the Master, 1969. Photograph by Marbeth, New York.

Dance Theatre of Harlem company members in front of Church of the Master, 1969. Photograph by Marbeth, New York.


An afternoon of conversation with longtime members of the Dance Theatre of Harlem — Marcia Sells, Theara Ward, and Robert Garland.

Hear about their experiences working with dance visionary Arthur Mitchell, the ballets they danced and the countries they toured, and how social justice infused the company’s identity from the start.

A John Jay Papers milestone on President’s Day

We’re celebrating the release of volume five of The Selected Papers of John Jay1788-1794 (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2017).

Jay Papers editor Robb Haberman says, “It opens with the ratification of the Constitution, and covers Jay’s role in the forming of the new government as acting Secretary of State prior to Jefferson’s taking office and as first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”

Also explored are his gubernatorial campaign of 1792, the Genet Affair, and the events leading to the negotiation of the Jay Treaty with Great Britain.

In our six degrees of separation game, speaking of George Washington and President’s Day, pop over to the Papers of George Washington Newsletter to Robb’s article on the friendship between Jay and Washington. It’s a bromance “forged in war” and a lot more apt for the day than buying a mattress.

Lunar New Year & fun images of dogs

Lunar New Year falls on Friday, February 16, 2018 this year. Being Chinese-American, I’ve always had a fondness for the holiday, especially since every year brings us a different zodiac animal to celebrate. The Chinese zodiac moves in a 12-year cycle, and those born during 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018 are considered to have the dog as their zodiac animal. To ring in the Year of the Dog, I’ve found a few books in our vast collection featuring the ever loyal, adorable animal.

The First Book of Dogs, published in 1949, was written by Gladys Taber who briefly taught creative writing at Columbia University during the late 1920s.

Illustrator Bob Kuhn, known for his wildlife and animal illustrations during his era, said, “I don’t know why I paint animals. All I know is when I was a very little boy, there was something about animals that grabbed hold of me. To me, the fun of painting animals is to be the stage manager, the arranger, the fellow who selects out the stuff that doesn’t abet the subject and the mood, and to bring in the things that would enhance the mood. Having the temerity or courage, having figured things out, to bend them or change them when the painting calls for it, is the final test of whether you’re functioning as a naturalist or a painter.”

Taber’s book can be found in our Historical Children’s book collection.

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Event | Shannon Mattern on the meaning of book storage furniture in our reading lives

Thursday, 22 February 2018, 6pm Room 523 in Butler Library

On Thursday, February 22, the RBML and Karla Nielsen, Curator of Literature and Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature, hosts Shannon Mattern, Associate Professor of Media Studies at The New School.

Professor Mattern will present on the long history of the bookshelf, “Cabinet Logics: An Intellectual History of Book Furniture.” Prof. Mattern will survey the furniture we design and build to make, store, support, organize, and preserve our bibliographic objects, focusing on how these structures inform the way human bodies relate to those media, and embody certain assumptions about what and how we know things through these objects.

Inside the under construction reading room in the new Wiener Library @ Russell Square in Camden Town, London, UK

Photo credit: Peter Alfred Hess | Flickr: peterhess

Professor Mattern’s talk will be followed by a Q & A. The event is free and open to the public but registration is recommended. 

Many dogs win “Best in RBML Collections”

For some, the most important, star-studded event for this time of year isn’t the Winter Olympic Games. And it’s not the Oscars.

This past weekend the Westminster Kennel Club held its annual dog show and declared a very puffy Bichon Frise “Best in Show.”

Right about here would be a great place for a dog-related pun, but surely you just want to know that we have photos of dogs in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s collection, right? Here’s a sampling.

Why not browse some of the titles held in our rare book and manuscript collection?

– Curated by Tara Craig, Head of Public Services

Event | Oral history and art history meet with new project on Rauschenberg

February 15, 2018, 6:00 – 7:30 pm, Knox Hall 509, Columbia University

The Columbia Center for Oral History Archives is anticipating the arrival of oral histories conducted about artist Robert Rauschenberg.

For a sneak preview of the project, conducted by the Center for Oral History Research and INCITE, join us for this seminar detailing, “an oral biography of…first-hand accounts of [Rauschenberg’s] life, work, and legacy,” as well as, “the spirit of the larger art world that he inhabited throughout his life.”

Photo credit: Redhood52993 | Flickr | @sean-mullins

This event is FREE and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. No registration is required, but RSVPs on the CCOHR’s event Facebook page (to be posted) are appreciated to gauge attendance.


Are you following @1968CU on Twitter?

The Low Down spoke with RBML curator Jocelyn Wilk about her thinking behind @1968CU, the University Archive’s new Twitter feed documenting the 1968 protests that shook Columbia’s campus.