Original exhibition dates: February 10, 2020–May 29, 2020 (closed early due to Covid-19 pandemic), The Goldstein Family Gallery, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania Libraries
Drawing on local collections, this exhibition attempts to encompass the broadest possible scope of ideas and material manifestations associated with the European Renaissance. It explores the numerous ways in which the production of hand-written and hand-decorated documents flourished during this period, even as the age of the printing press dawned. The 100 items in the exhibit, drawn from ten local collections, encompass a broad array of ideas and material manifestations associated with the European Renaissance. Curated by Nicholas Herman.
Online-only exhibition (2020)
This online exhibition “A Liberal Arts Education for the (Middle) Ages: Texts, Translations, and Study,” explores the study of the liberal arts, the texts of Boethius, and the intellectual life of early medieval monasteries through a selection of manuscripts from the collections of the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. Curated by Christine E. Bachman
Original exhibition dates: August 23, 2017–December 22, 2017, The Goldstein Family Gallery, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania Libraries
An online version of the exhibition from 2017 curated by Benjamin Fleming. This exhibition focuses on Penn Libraries’ manuscripts and printed materials from South, Southeast Asia, and Tibet, which is the largest collection of its kind in North America. The Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain traditions displayed here represent the core of the collection. The exhibit includes examples from Penn’s traditional focus on “classical” Sanskrit materials but also broadens it to include an array of local and vernacular traditions. It also includes objects from the Penn Museum.
Original exhibition dates: August 25, 2016–December 16, 2016, The Goldstein Family Gallery, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania Libraries
This exhibition explores the many and varied ways that people have reacted to, and acted upon, manuscripts from the Middle Ages up to today. The theme of “reactions” gives us space to explore the many and varied ways that people have reacted to, and acted upon, manuscripts from the Middle Ages up to today. Reactions exemplified here take many forms. These include the manipulation of physical objects, through marking texts, adding illustrations, disbinding books, or rebinding fragments; and technological approaches to working with manuscripts, in terms of both manuscript conservation and new digital tools such as digital scanning, ink and parchment analysis, and virtual reconstruction. In addition, Reactions tackles how manuscripts have been considered in popular culture over time, in books, games, art, and films.
Original exhibition dates: March 1, 2013–August 16, 2013, The Goldstein Family Gallery, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania Libraries
The exhibition A Legacy Inscribed: The Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection of Manuscripts is now available online. In 2011, University of Pennsylvania Board members Barbara Brizdle Schoenberg and LawrenceJ. Schoenberg (C53, WG56) donated the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection of Manuscripts to the libraries. The Schoenberg collection brings together many of the great scientific and philosophical traditions of the ancient and medieval worlds. Documenting the extraordinary achievements of scholars, philosophers, and scientists in Europe, Africa and Asia, the collection illuminates the foundations of Penn’s academic traditions.
Each section of the exhibition – Arts and Sciences, Communication, Design, Education, Engineering, Law, the Medical Arts, and Social Policy and Practice – showcases texts, textbooks, documents, and letters that embody the history and mission of the schools that form the University. Often illustrated with complex diagrams and stunning imagery, the manuscripts bring to the present the intellectual legacy of the distant past.
Online-only exhibition (2015, revised 2022)
Likely produced in London in the third quarter of the fifteenth century, the Genealogical Chronicle of the Kings of England, to Edward IV, known as Ms. Roll 1066, is a compilational tour de force of the greatest hits of medieval historians, assimilating the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth, William of Malmesbury, and Ranulf Higden, among others. The roll is an imposing physical presence: a staggering thirty-seven feet and thirteen membranes long; it chronicles the lineage of Yorkist king Edward IV beginning with Adam and Eve and ending with Edward IV (1461). This Chronicle also has a complex illustrative schema containing 174 bust-length portraits in color, five mandorlas with tinted full-length portraits, and eighty roundels containing crowns as well as several classic chronicle type-scenes including the Temptation of Adam, Noah after the Flood, and the city of Jerusalem. The digital project provides a complete transcription of the manuscript, linked to high-resolution images, as well as navigation for membranes and roundels.
Online-only exhibition (2015)
The Liber Simulationis Litterarum was written by Michael Zopello, and presented to Pope Callixtus III between 1455 and 1458. The book is written in humanist script, in Latin and Italian, with an ornate decoration, including Callixtus’ coat of arms, on the first page. The book contains two systems of code, invented by Zopello himself, to disguise the Papal correspondences. The first code is based on word substitution, while the second uses symbols to stand in for the letters of the alphabet and important terms. Much of the book is taken up by word tables for the code. The aim of this project was to create a transcription and translation of the Liber Simulationis Litterarum, and to publish these digitally. The finished product allows the viewer to see the digital facsimile of the manuscript, the transcription, translation, and a visualization of the encoded message.
Online-only exhibition (2011)
The approximate date of 1100 makes the glossed psalter the oldest codex in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library and places it very early in the development of the glossed Bible, decades before the text of the gloss was standardized. The irregular spacing of the gloss throughout may suggest that the scribe was compiling it himself, rather than copying it from another manuscript, as would later become common practice. Another noteworthy characteristic is the scribe’s method of dealing with psalm lines longer than the width of the main text column: rather than continuing onto a second line, he inserts the remainder of the line at the end of a shorter previous line, marking the beginning of the insertion with a small pennant-shaped symbol. The origin of this technique, the sources of the gloss, and the degree to which this early gloss corresponds to the later glossa ordinaria are all questions open to original research. The digital project includes a full facsimile of the manuscript, and an index to the psalms.