Tag Archives: exhibition

A Companion to Rackham

illustration of a spriteOur current exhibition “Enchanted Vision” showcases some of the works from the Arthur Rackham Collection held here at the RBML. Rackham, a British illustrator, illustrated 50 major works beginning with Rip Van Winkle in 1905, Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Winnie the Pooh, and other English and American classics. As a companion to this exhibition, the University Archives has put together some materials to highlight the Collection’s origin and history at Columbia. Continue reading

On Display @ Kunming City Museum: Barney Rosset, Publisher-Hero as Combat Photographer in China

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ (CUL/IS) Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is pleased to announce the opening of Barney Rosset, Publisher-hero as Combat Photographer in China, an exhibition at Kunming City Museum, in Kunming City, Yunnan, China, which features a collection of RBML’s photographs of China from World War II by Grove Street Press publisher Barney Rosset.

Astrid Rosset at the opening of Barney Rosset, Publisher-Hero as Combat Photographer in China at Kunming City Museum (Photo: Arthur Bijur)

The exhibition, which opened on February 20, was co-curated by Bob Bergin, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer; Astrid Rosset, Barney Rosset’s widow, and Karla Nielsen, Curator of Literature at RBML. The curators chose approximately 100 images from the collection, which were then digitized by the RBML and printed by the Kunming City Museum.

The photographs in the exhibition were taken by Rosset during his time with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in China toward the end of World War II (1944-1945). In 1945, Rosset was tasked with documenting for the United States that Chinese soldiers were willing to fight. The photographs depict Chinese and American soldiers in training and combat, the devastation caused by the Ichi-Go operation (The Battle of Henan-Hunan-Guangxi), the largest Japanese land campaign of the war, the Japanese retreat, and the signing of the surrender in Nanking. Rosset joined the Chinese troops at Kweiyang, the deepest point of Japanese penetration before they began to retreat.

Little documentation from this period remains in China and the newly opened Kunming City Museum was eager to mount an exhibition of Rosset’s photographs. According to Bergin, Rosset (who passed away in 2012) wished that his photos of a difficult period in Chinese history could be shown to China’s new generations.  The exhibition includes digital prints of his photographs, copies of letters he wrote home during that period, and documents that demonstrate Rosset’s interest in China throughout his life and career.

Rosset bought the fledgeling Grove Press in 1951 and transformed it into the leading publisher of avant-garde literature and political writing. Grove published Che Guevara, Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, and Malcolm X.

Concurrent with the brick-and-mortar exhibition in China, the RBML has created an online exhibition containing many of these images, which can be viewed on the exhibition website.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services (CUL/IS) is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 12 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers, including affiliates. CUL/IS employs more than 450 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.

Celebrating Composers: Jack Beeson’s “Lizzie Borden”

Jack Beeson

November 6, 2013 (Wednesday)

Butler Library, Room, 523, at 6:00 p.m.


The Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is Columbia’s principal repository for primary source collections.  The range of collections in RBML span more than 4,000 years and comprise rare printed works, cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets, papyri, and Coptic ostraca; medieval and renaissance manuscripts; as well as art and realia.  Some 500,000 printed books and 14 miles of manuscripts, personal papers, and records form the core of the RBML holdings.  One can find literary manuscripts from the 14th century to the papers of authors Herman Wouk and Erica Jong. Archives as varied as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Random House, NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International-USA, and the archives of Columbia University are available for research.  The history of printing, graphic arts and the performing arts are strengths of RBML.

RBML Exhibition— “Ernst Reichl: Wide Awake Typographer”

Kempner Gallery

July 8 – September 13, 2013

RBML Reichl Exhibition

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library is delighted to present a major exhibition of the work of Ernst Reichl (1900-1980), German-American book designer, active and prominent in New York/American publishing from the 1930s into the 1970s. A ‘whole book’ designer, Reichl believed in the harmonious totality of the package and the value of one design vision for all its parts, and became one of the top trade book designers, prolific and award-winning. He actively promoted the profession and high standards in book publishing, by example and through writing, teaching, and exhibitions. A serious reader (he read broadly and seldom designed without reading the manuscript), Reichl was also a scholar, and a fine writer. The latter activity was an unexpected discovery in his papers, given to Columbia by his widow, Miriam Reichl, and the catalyst for this exhibition.

Martha Scotford, exhibition curator, Professor Emeritus of Graphic Design, North Carolina State University (NCSU), assisted by Kezra Cornell; Master of Graphic Design candidate, NCSU. This exhibition has been supported by a Columbia Libraries Research Grant, and the Reese Fellowship for American Bibliography and the History of the Book in the Americas from the Bibliographical Society of America.

Note on exhibition title: from Reichl’s comment on the card for Joyce Carol Oates’ The Wheel of Love (Vanguard, 1970): “J.C.O. enjoys using typographic devices of all sorts to express herself… and many other oddities, which require a wide-awake typographer.”

For more information on the exhibition, please see: information.

For exhibition hours, please review: hours.

Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Butler Library, 6th floor East, 535 West 114th St., New York, NY 10027

Loaded Dice

Currently on view in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library is a small but fascinating exhibition of dice, from the Smith Collection of Mathematical  Instruments. They date from the Roman era to the early 20th century. David Eugene Smith (1860-1944) was a professor of mathematics at Teachers College, Columbia University. He used these dice in his lectures, to show the “development of one of the oldest numbers games known.” Smith’s collection of mathematical instruments, manuscripts, and books is in the RBML, and was the subject of an exhibition in 2002-2003.

I was particularly excited by this exhibition, not only because of my personal interest in the history of gambling, but because (believe it or not) of something in the John Jay Papers.

In 1794, John Jay, then serving as Chief Supreme Court Justice, was appointed by Washington to serve as Envoy Extraordinary to negotiate a treaty concerning the general commerce between the said United States and the British Empire, and also to address certain unexecuted or ignored aspects of the 1783 Peace Treaty.  His eldest son, Peter Augustus, then 18, accompanied his father. He had just graduated from Columbia College, and his mother, Sarah, thought the London trip would be a grand opportunity for him. His father had misgivings, but eventually agreed. During their residence in London, Peter kept a diary in four notebooks, in which he recorded the sights and people they encountered. Among the people he met were the artist Benjamin West, philosopher Jeremy Bentham, Prime Minister William Pitt the younger, and manufacturer Josiah Wedgewood. He attended the theater, seeing Mrs. Siddons perform numerous times, grand balls and assemblies, and visited galleries, libraries, and museums. It was at the British Museum that he encountered a pair of loaded dice.


Monday 23rd. June [1794] I breakfasted this morning with Mr. Paradise, who was so obliging as afterwards to attend me to the British Museum– This edifice is a fine one, & it contains such numbers & variety that in one morning, it is impossible to gain much more than a knoledge of their disposition . . . We saw in another room a number of Roman dice, some of which appear to have been loaded, many Play & Lottery Tickets consisting principally of figures cut from ivory

Peter Augustus’s diaries, located in the John Jay Papers collection at RBML, were probably kept both to hone Peter’s observatory and writing skills, serve as a souvenir, and to share with his family and friends back home. They provide a unique window on Jay’s negotiation, as they list where and with whom the father and son visited. The Jay collection also contains many letters, both official and private, from the mission, as well as Jay’s letter book and account book.

(However, it’s not clear if any of the dice in the exhibition are loaded.)

Quatercentenary of the House of Romanov

Kempner Gallery

February 14th to June 28th, 2013


Romanov Exhibition

The exhibition Quatercentenary of the House of Romanov features objects drawn from various collections held by the Bakhmeteff Archive and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML) at Columbia University. It consists of books, correspondence, original charters, maps, photographs, posters, personal documents, ephemera, and books and other possessions that belonged to the Russian Imperial Family. The exhibition will be on display from February 14th through June 28th, 2013 in the RBML’s Kempner Gallery.

One highlight of the exhibition is the 1622 manuscript Charter of Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich Romanov granting land and other privileges and rights to Onufrii, Archbishop of Astrakhan and Terek.  Never shown before and unpublished, this charter is a very rare and significant document from the reign of the first Romanov tsar.  Another highpoint is the recently opened collection of nearly 500 letters sent by Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna, mother of the last Russian Emperor, and her two daughters, Grand Duchess Ksenia and Olga, to their close friend and companion, Princess Aleksandra Obolensky.  There letters are written in French and Russian and reflect the daily life and expectations of the Imperial family in exile.

Most poignant is a white lace parasol that belonged to Aleksandra Fiodorovna (1872-1918), the last Russian Tsarina, along with a never-shown-before white lace pillow, that was also her property, preserved by one of her ladies-in-waiting, Countess Mariia Semenovna Benckendorff. Other items from the reign of the last Romanovs include a variety of elaborate menus and other ephemera relating to the coronation festivities of Nicholas and Aleksandra in 1896, a print announcing of the birth of the Tsarevich, Grand Duke Aleksei Nikolaevich, in 1904, a draft of Nicholas II’s abdication manifesto, 1917, and a volume of Nikolai Sokolov’s Preliminary Investigation into the Death of Nicholas II and His Family, Ekaeterinburg, 1918.

For more information on the exhibition, please see: information.


For exhibition hours, please review: hours.


Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Butler Library, 6th floor East, 535 West 114th St., New York, NY 10027

Writing the Word: A Selection of Medieval Latin Biblical Manuscripts in Columbia Collections

Chang Octagon Exhibition Room

April 10 to July 5, 2013



This exhibition features codices and fragments from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library and The Burke Library at the Union Theological Seminary, both of the Columbia University Libraries. Spanning the period from the eighth to the fifteenth century, these manuscripts demonstrate the range of scripts, formats, and versions in which the Latin Bible circulated during the western European Middle Ages.

For more information on the exhibition, please see: information.

For exhibition hours, please review: hours.


Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Butler Library, 6th floor East, 535 West 114th St., New York, NY 10027

ONLINE EXHIBITION: “Choosing Sides: Right-Wing Icons in the Group Research Records”

The Group Research, Inc. Records, housed in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Columbia University, comprise a rich resource documenting the organizations, people, and campaigns of conservative activists in the United States from the early-1960s to the mid-1990s. Drawn from that collection, the items in this exhibit highlight the important role that illustrators, cartoonists and designers played in the dissemination of conservative points of view during this formative period for modern U.S. conservative ideology.

This 1964 issue of Human Events featured an article by Barry Goldwater attacking Group Research.

The form of the exhibit highlights this theme of division. Two brief essays in the Introduction section describe the ideological motivations of both conservative artists and the organization, Group Research, Inc. that collected their work. Picturing Partners showcases images of sympathetic people that conservative artists felt were either in need of protection by or further support from conservative campaigns and activists. Envisioning Enemies reveals the darker half of America that these activists feared: the individuals, groups and organizations that threaten true patriots. The final section, Portraying Patriotism, demonstrates how conservative activists manipulated politically neutral images such as the U.S. flag or the Statue of Liberty to make partisan arguments about U.S. values and the future of the country.

Russian Delegation

On December 18, 2009, the four member Russian delegation led by Aleksandr Pavlovich Vershinin, General Director of the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library, has visited the Columbia University libraries. This visit was initiated by the Russian side of the team representing the Joint Project between the Library of Congress and the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library, the first Presidential Library in Russia.

Russian delegation represents one of five Joint Project Implementation Teams created within the framework of the Russian-American Working Group on Library Cooperation. The focus of these five groups is 1)Technology and Best Practices; 2) Content and Exchange of Materials; 3)Audio-Visual Collections; 4) Copyright and Related Rights; and 5)Specific Joint Digital Projects.

The Russian delegation met with Jim Neal, who introduced them with Columbia Libraries system in general. Then they were hosted by Columbia University Slavic bibliographer, Rob Davies, who made a Powerpoint presentation on the historical background of Columbia’s library, in a national context, 1903-1946.

Tanya Chebotarev, Bakhmeteff Curator, set up a small exhibit of Russian and East European materials which emphasized the vast variety of the Bakhmeteff Archive collecting activities. She also talked about the history and collection development policies of the second largest repository of Russian émigré materials in the United States. See photos.

Patricia Renfro and representatives from RBML, LDPD, Columbia’s Center for New Media Teaching & Research, and the Center for Digital Research & Scholarship gave an overview of Columbia’s digitization program, special online teaching and learning projects, Courseworks, and other digital initiatives.

The group then had lunch at Faculty House with Jim Neal, Patricia Renfro, and former chair of the Baltic and Slavic Division at the NYPL, Edward Kasinec, who is now a fellow at the Harriman Institute.