Category Archives: Exhibitions

Optical devices on view

Our new reading room includes a consultation room at one end for small classes and group discussions. The room also has a case now filled with a portion of the optical devices collection. On view are a portable camera obscura, camera lucida, stereoviewers, megalethoscope, zograscope, zoetrope, thaumatropes, magic lanterns, and much more.

You are welcome to come individually or with a group to see these objects Monday-Friday between 9:00-4:45. At some future date, the back wall will be removed and students will be able to view the collection whenever the building is open, seven days/week.

For more information on the individual items, see the category list to the right and select ‘Pre-cinema optical devices.’


Hogarth’s Prison Scene

Our copy of William Hogarth’s “Prison Scene,” plate seven from “A Rake’s Progress,” is going to New York City to join the exhibition, “Taming Traders: Origins of the New York Stock Exchange,” at the New-York Historical Society from March 31 to June 11, 2017.



Mounted on the 225th anniversary of the New York Stock Exchange, the exhibition charts the development of this crucial trading institution. Objects on display include early bond and stock certificates, correspondence, portraits of traders, and views of Wall Street and the Tontine Coffee House. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Michael Ryan, New-York Historical vice president and director of the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library.

Their website tells the story:

On May 17, 1792―under a buttonwood tree, the site of street trading at the time―24 stock brokers signed an agreement that regulated aspects of trading, thus creating the New York Stock Exchange. Before then, in the early days of the new republic when the United States was deeply in debt, it was Alexander Hamilton’s job as the first Secretary of the Treasury to persuade his colleagues in the first Congress that debt could be a beneficial commodity that could be sold and traded. But rampant speculation in war debt and bank stock turned to financial panic and provided the cautionary backdrop for the drafting of the Buttonwood Agreement in May 1792, which would change global commerce forever.

William Hogarth (1697–1764) engraved the eight plates of “A Rake’s Progress” in 1735 and we had the entire set on view back in 2011 in our own exhibition Sin and the City: William Hogarth’s London:

Add your own immigration story to “The British Library”

“The British Library,” a re-installation of an exhibition created by the British/Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, is now on view at the James Cohan Gallery in New York City. Its web component, accessible in the gallery and online, allows visitors to explore the complete list of names on the show’s 10,000 books and several video documentaries about immigration. There is also a page where we are asked to record our own immigration stories.

Shonibare designed the work as a celebration of diversity. Originally commissioned in 2014, Cohan’s gallery has been transformed into a place of discovery and debate, featuring an installation of thousands of books “covered in the artist’s signature batik Dutch wax printed cotton textile. On the spines of many of these books are printed the names of notable first and second generation immigrants and incoming migrants to Britain who have moved here throughout history.”

The names include Winston Churchill, Prince Philip, Dame Helen Mirren, and many others. “These immigrants and incoming migrants have all made a significant contribution to aspects of British life and culture, from science to music, art, cinema and literature. Other books feature names of prominent figures who have opposed immigration at various times. Online, the videos investigate the immigration debate from pro-immigration, anti-immigration, and neutral viewpoints.”

The show’s website notes: “Examples of the reasons for immigration can vary from global conflicts to economic factors. Whilst the project is a celebration of the ongoing contributions made to British society by people who have arrived there from other parts of the world or whose ancestors came to Britain as immigrants, it does not exclude the points of view of those who object to it.”

For more information, see

More about book jackets:
George Thomas Tanselle, Book-Jackets: their History, Forms, and Use (Charlottesville: Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 2011). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) 2012-0040N

Kurt Weidemann, [Buchumschläge und Schallplattenhüllen] Book Jackets and Record Covers (New York, Praeger [1969]). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) 2014-0581Q

Charles Rosner, The Art of the Book-Jacket (London: Published for the Victoria and Albert Museum by H.M.S.O., 1949). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) 2009-0369N

Last Chance to See “Remember Me”

hamlet7Only a little more than a week left to see the exhibition “Remember Me” at the Princeton University Art Museum. Don’t forget.

Hamlet’s Ghost:
I am thy father’s spirit,
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love–

For more information, see:



Shakespeare panel on Friday

boydell-shakespeare-5-1Merry Wives of Windsor

shakespeare-learOn Friday, November 11, a panel discussion will be held in conjunction with the exhibition, “Remember Me”: Shakespeare and His Legacy at the Princeton University Art Museum.

Speakers include Bradin Cormack, professor of English; Eric White, curator of rare books; and Michael Caddin, chair, Lewis Center for the Arts. Calvin Brown, associate curator of prints and drawings, will serve as moderator.

The exhibition, on view through December 31, 2016, is a collaboration between the Art Museum and Firestone Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.


Friday, November 11, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. in McCormick 101
A reception in the Museum will follow


“Remember Me” at the Princeton University Art Museum

shakespeare6This Shadowe is renowned Shakespear’s! Soule of th’ age
The applause! delight! the wonder of the Stage,
Nature her selfe, was proud of his designes
And joy’d to weare the dressing of his lines,
The learned will Confess, his works are suchs
As neither man nor Muse can prayse to much,
For ever live thy fame, the world to tell
Thy like, no age shall ever parallel


Like everyone else, we installed a small Shakespeare show at the Princeton University Art Museum this week. A website with checklist and label copy will be up soon. For additional information see:

shakes6Waiting for his vitrine.


shakes3First and Third on view











“It’s About Time” and “On Time”

Now in its eleventh year, the New York Art Book Fair will take place September 16 to 18, 2016 at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens. On Sunday, September 18, Princeton’s Lecturer in Visual Arts, David Reinfurt will speak with Karel Martens from 2:00 to 3:00 pm, a discussion they are calling “It’s About Time.” The talk will be moderated by Prem Krishnamurthy.

NYABF_1Here’s their blurb:

“Dutch graphic designer Karel Martens joins New York-based designer David Reinfurt for a conversation around questions of time and creative practice. . .  Although primarily focused on different media — Martens on printed matter, and Reinfurt on software-based works — both designers extend the core activities of the field through their independent investigations, which range from experimental prints, edited publications, video and interactive works, and spatial installations.

This aspect of both Martens’ and Reinfurt’s practice has led them to develop ideas and projects over durations that span years or even decades. Clocks themselves figure prominently in each body of work, as a way to mark time while also perform its passing. Since the 1960s, motorized clock mechanisms have played a crucial role in Martens’ kinetic sculptures, which use continuous movement to create shifting optical effects.

Reinfurt (as Dexter Sinister and O-R-G) has published a suite of objects and apps since 2000 that tell time in novel and often perverse ways, asking viewers to slow down. Bringing two key figures into public dialogue, this event raises questions about design, contemporary visual practice, and the long gestation period of independent ideas.”

It is curious that another exhibition this fall will also focus on time. On Time: The Quest for Precision is curated by Bruce Bradley at the Grolier Club in New York City from September 14 to November 19, 2016. The show features books on time and timekeeping from the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering and Technology in Kansas City, Missouri.

“From sundials to atomic clocks, the exhibition On Time: The Quest for Precision explores the history of precise timekeeping through rare books that taught readers techniques of timekeeping, announced new inventions, and provided instructions on the construction and use of timekeeping instruments.”

For more information see:

Visiting the Driehaus Museum in Chicago

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In 1879, Chicago banker Samuel Mayo Nickerson commissioned a new house from the architectural firm of Burling and Whitehouse of Chicago. Today, the building is the home of the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, offering the public a fascinating view of one of the grandest residential buildings of 19th-century Chicago.

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“Philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus founded the museum on April 1, 2003 with a vision to influence today’s built environment by preserving and promoting architecture and design of the past.

To realize his vision, Mr. Driehaus commissioned a five-year restoration effort to preserve the structure and its magnificent interiors.

Today the galleries feature surviving furnishings paired with elegant, historically-appropriate pieces from the Driehaus Collection of Fine and Decorative Arts, including important works by such celebrated designers as Herter Brothers and Louis Comfort Tiffany.”


On the second floor, complementing home’s stunning interiors is the exhibition “With a Wink and a Nod: Cartoonists of the Gilded Age.” Original pen and ink drawings for Puck magazine are shown along with the final print versions of each cartoon. Organized by the Flagler Museum, Palm Beach, Florida, with special thanks to Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf, the show is on view until January 8, 2017.
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Several rooms have Lincrusta wall treatments, an embossed and heavily textured wall covering that imitates tooled leather or papier-mâché but with great beauty and stability.

First patented in 1877, the Nickerson house was one of the first to incorporate this new design material in the United States.

For more information about the wonderful interiors in the Driehaus, see

See also David Bagnall, An American palace: Chicago’s Samuel M. Nickerson House (Chicago, Illinois: Richard H. Driehaus Museum: Distributed by University of Chicago Press, 2011). Marquand Library (SA) Oversize NA7511.4.C45 B34 2011q

Save the date

shakespeare use3The exhibition ‘Remember me’: Shakespeare and his Legacy, featuring many of the library’s books, paintings, photographs, and prints will open October 1, 2016 at the Princeton University Art Museum.

Included are several of Shakespeare’s books that predate the famous First Folio.

shakespeare use

shakespeare use2

Norske Grafikere

webbilde-bokThe Association of Norwegian Printmakers has a new exhibition of book arts in their Oslo gallery, called Innbundet / Ubundet, Bok-Trykk-Skulptur = Bound / Unbound, Letterpress Sculpture. On view during the month of April are works by Simon Faithfull, Jan Freuchen, Sarah Jost, Imi Maufe, rebeliCa angeCCa, Randi Nygård, Ellen Marie Blakstad Paus, Samoa Rémy and Randi Strand.

The exhibition presents artist books from the printmaker’s perspective, with a focus on the book as a unique object. The artists are working with, against, and across textual communication, while also dealing with the properties of the physical books as a visual sculptures and tactile objects.

The Association of Norwegian Printmakers was founded in 1919 by, among others, Erik Werenskiold, Edvard Munch and Harald Sohlberg. Situated in the center of Oslo, the organization has at any time more than 4000 prints represented by more than 300 artists, making the gallery Norway’s principal venue for contemporary prints.Teknikker-Banner

Their website states that the purpose of their organization is to make printmaking recognized as an independent art form and to improve the artists’ situation. Since its establishment, the Association has worked continuously to maintain high professional and ethical standards. Their artists use traditional and contemporary techniques, including digital printing as well as classical intaglio and relief techniques, lithography and screen printing, among many others.