University of Virginia Library » Exhibitions
The Library’s exhibition programs showcase just some of the rare and unique materials available to the University’s faculty, students, and visiting researchers, as well as materials loaned by partner institutions. When you are in Charlottesville, we welcome you to visit permanent and changing exhibitions at venues across Grounds. Users around the world are encouraged to browse our large and growing archive of online exhibitions.
From the Grounds Up: The University After Jefferson, 1826-1900
January 26, 2018 - May 25, 2018
Thomas Jefferson conceived the University of Virginia between 1814 and 1826 as a village, a self-contained unit with a total population of approximately 400. The University’s architecture from that period uniquely represented the essential ideals of Jefferson’s educational and political philosophies and served as an integral part of the students’ education.
The University changed dramatically between 1825 and 1895. A growing student body, disease and war, and developments in teaching methods required buildings to serve new needs. Explore the evolving aesthetic of the University’s architecture from Jeffersonian classicism to a picturesque placement of buildings in a wider range of styles in a new exhibition curated by Richard Guy Wilson, Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History, and in conjunction with the Fralin Museum of Art’s Bicentennial exhibition From the Grounds Up: Thomas Jefferson’s Architecture & Design.
Book Traces: Readers Marks in Books
October 26, 2017 - March 9, 2018
How did readers annotate, mark, and customize their books in an age when the book was king? And what are we to make of those unique volumes now? The Book Traces project is an attempt to answer those questions by looking at individual copies of 19th and early 20th-century books on the shelves of libraries. Over the past two years, here at the University of Virginia, the Book Traces team has examined over 100,000 books from Alderman and other libraries on Grounds, looking for evidence of use by their original owners. This exhibition offers highlights from that search.
In these books, we find that readers left behind many traces of themselves and their interactions: inscriptions, notes, lists, poems, anecdotes, letters, flowers, locks of hair, drawings, and photographs. And these in turn bear evidence of the full catastrophe of our human compulsions, triumphs, and bereavements: courtship, marriage, war, childbirth, aspiration, friendship, and death, all in dialogue with reading and the life of the book.
September 1, 2017 - January 19, 2018
Inspired by the recent conservation treatment of a portrait of Burroughs painted by Orlando Rouland, this exhibition brings an important American naturalist back to light. The painting serves as the focal point of the exhibition, tying together writer, artist, collector, and library. The exhibition showcases books, manuscripts, and other materials from the Burroughs collection. John Burroughs’ (1837-1921) essays on nature were widely read by both scholars and the reading public during his lifetime. He counted among his friends prominent men including Walt Whitman, Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Ford, John Muir, and Thomas Edison. The Burroughs collection is part of the Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature at the University of Virginia.More details »
The University of Virginia in 100 Objects
August 24, 2017 - June 22, 2018
Main Gallery, Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture
Featuring items from the permanent collections of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, the Rotunda, the Alumni Association, private collectors, and more, The University of Virginia in 100 Objects commemorates the University of Virginia’s Bicentennial. The one hundred artifacts included represent moments from two centuries of UVA history in an exhibition that ranges across space as well as time–you can find seventy-nine objects in the galleries of the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library, and twenty-one more may be found at sixteen satellite sites around Grounds. Based on the book Mr. Jefferson’s Telescope (UVA Press, 2017), 100 Objects is an exhibition is coordinated by the University of Virginia Library with support from the University of Virginia Bicentennial and funding provided by the Alumni Board of Trustees.
August 11, 2017 - December 31, 2017
The exhibition, presented in partnership with the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, highlights the ecological disaster created by abandoned and discarded fishing nets off the coast of northeastern Australia. These “ghost nets” are a by-product of the commercial fishing industry: ghost nets drift on the ocean currents, trapping a rich array of marine life and eventually drifting to the ocean floor, suffocating marine animals and coral reefs and creating long term damage to the marine environment. Indigenous Australians were among the first to notice the devastating effects of ghost nets. Aboriginal artists from Pormpuraaw, Queensland, harvest ghost nets and turn them into delightful sculptures of marine life. Their artworks raise awareness about the environmental threat of litter in the ocean.More details »
March '17 - July '17
After emerging on the international literary scene in the 1960s, Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) became Argentina’s best known writer and a cultural icon. Drawing from the UVA Library’s renowned holdings, this exhibition explores Borges’s little-known activities as translator, prologist, editor, and publisher to shed light on his crucial role in shaping Argentine literary canons.More details »
March '17 - May '17
On March 19, 1917, James Rogers McConnell became the first UVA student to die in World War I. He is remembered most as one of the Lafayette Escadrille, a corps of American pilots fighting for the French before the U.S. joined the war. This exhibition surveys his extraordinary adventure, beginning with his decision to join the American Ambulance Corps in 1915, through flight training, combat, and injury, and finally to his death in aerial combat and subsequent memorialization at UVA and beyond.More details »
February '17 - July '17
This exhibition surveys one of the greatest archives of American literature: the University of Virginia’s William Faulkner collections. Manuscripts of eight novels are displayed alongside first editions and key archival documents. The novelist’s life is narrated through the personae he inhabited: artist, aviator, screenwriter, Nobel prizewinner, white southerner, and UVA writer-in-residence are just some of those featured. Die-hard fans, the general public, and even the Faulkner-phobic will find the unexpected in the items on display. Visit the exhibition website.More details »
October '16 - October '16
From October 1–26, “Shakespeare by the Book” will become the backdrop for the visiting Folger Shakespeare Library exhibition featuring the celebrated First Folio of 1623. First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare is a national traveling exhibition to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The First Folio contains 36 of Shakespeare’s plays, 18 of which were never printed before.More details »
September '16 - January '17
Did you know that a small part of the Harlem Renaissance took place in a garden in Lynchburg, Virginia? This exhibition celebrates the legacy of poet, civil rights activist, and gardener Anne Spencer (1882–1975). Her home was a sacred space for the African-American community on the East coast, a space free from Jim Crow. Her garden was Spencer’s own sacred space for poetic creation. View the house and garden as they look today through the eyes of John Hall’s stunning photographs, juxtaposed with artifacts, manuscripts, and books that bring Spencer’s work and times back to life.More details »
Sisters of the Press: Radical Feminist Literature, 1967-1977
June '16 - August '16
In the decade following the publication of Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique (1963), feminists resorted to other genres to communicate their message. Purchased for a few cents, handed out at meetings, or sent via mail, radical manifestos, pamphlets, and periodicals electrified the woman’s movement. They called for a change in consciousness, urging feminists to work outside the system. They shed light on discrimination in women’s health, education, and labor, as well as discrimination in the women’s movement itself. This exhibition showcases recent acquisitions that illustrate the complexities of radical feminism in its heyday.
February 26, 2016 - August 15, 2016
From 1765 to 1830 English readers eagerly embraced the novels and chapbook “shilling shockers” comprising the new genre of Gothic fiction. Today these editions are rare survivals, yet this profusion of “fearsome ink” has profoundly influenced the world’s literary and popular culture.
Drawing from the Sadleir-Black Collection and the recently acquired Maurice Lévy Collection—jointly the world’s finest holding of English Gothic fiction—this exhibition situates the English Gothic novel in international context; explores its potential for research in such areas as literary history, the history of publishing and reading, and book illustration; and profiles the collectors responsible for building UVA’s definitive holdings.More details »
February '16 - December '16
This exhibition marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death by celebrating how his works have come to life through innovations in print technology, editorial practice, and graphic design. Books and printing artifacts drawn from Special Collections’ eclectic holdings will explain the technology of printed books in the 17th century, narrate the complex editorial history of the plays, and survey the myriad forms Shakespeare’s works have taken in print over the last two centuries. Visitors will see both our oldest and most radically modern Shakespeare volumes, learn about U.Va.’s special role in the history of Shakespeare scholarship, and encounter more than 100 miniature volumes dedicated to the playwright and his works.
The exhibition will open in the Harrison North Gallery on February 22, 2016. From October 1-26, 2016, it will become the backdrop for the visiting Folger Shakespeare Library single-item exhibition “First Folio!: The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare.”More details »
January '16 - February '16
The American Civil Rights Movement (1954-1970) intensely transformed American society and inspired similar movements worldwide. Its nonviolent protests and civil resistance for equal citizenship under the law enhanced African-Americans’ self-dignity and collective commitment in the face of white supremacist terrorism. This mini-exhibition includes a display dedicated to the life and career of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., charismatic leader of the Civil Rights Movement and “a drum major for justice and peace” in his letters and publications. The exhibition’s 24 items on display comprise letters, newsletters, photographs, poetry and reports; special items of interest include a 1960 NAACP voting rights comic book, Alex Haley’s 1963 interview of Malcolm X, a 1969 Black Panther Party coloring book, a 1976 Julian Bond for President bumper sticker, an auction catalog for a 2006 planned sale of Dr. King’s papers, and an inscribed copy of Coretta Scott King’s published memoirs.More details »
September '15 - December '15
This mini-exhibition is drawn from Mildred Abraham’s personal collection of rare books on the Grand Tour. It offers viewers a chance to travel back in time to experience the Italy famous for its classical origins, Carnival, and banditti. Ranging from the earliest account of the Grand Tour in Italy, published in the 17th century, to illustrated accounts of 19th-century tourists and intellectuals such as Henry James, the exhibition is a visual feast for anyone interested in Italy and its history.More details »
American Broadsides to 1860
September '15 - December '15
“American Broadsides to 1860” features a selection of broadsides—single-sheet publications typically printed on a single side—culled from the holdings of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. These rare and ephemeral primary sources cover matters political, religious, social, commercial, militaristic, and literary. A fascinating portrait of the culture, the people, and the history of early America emerges from the contents of the 72 broadsides on view.
August '15 - September '15
In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, undergraduate Wolfe Docent Susan Swicegood curated the mini-exhibition “Happy 150th Birthday, Alice!” The exhibit focuses on how illustrators have envisioned the figure of Alice over the course of the book’s publishing history.More details »
May '15 - August '15
This exhibition explores how enslaved African Americans, helped by their free and freed counterparts, challenged slavery’s governance over their bodies and lives. Some such efforts are widely known, such as ingenious escapes and wide-scale insurrections. Other, more subtle forms of revolt are less familiar, such as cases of free blacks emancipating other blacks, or examples of a slave deftly manipulating her owners’ actions in written correspondence. Published memoirs and manifestoes by free Blacks and escaped slaves alike were themselves wielded as powerful rhetorical weapons in the fight for freedom.
Drawing from the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library’s rich holdings, this exhibition complements our other current exhibition, “Who shall tell the story?: Voices of Civil War Virginia,” extending the story of the defeat of slavery backwards several decades and foregrounding the transformative actions of enslaved individuals and communities.More details »
“Read, weep, and reflect”: Creating young abolitionists through Uncle Tom’s Cabin
May '15 - July '15
The ardent abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe had a specific intent for readers of her blockbuster novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin: she wanted her readers to “Read, weep, and reflect” as they read about the plights of Uncle Tom and his fellow slaves. Tie-in products for children demonstrate how Stowe, her publishers, and others seeking to get in on the lucrative Uncle Tom phenomenon envisioned extending the power of the novel to every part of children’s lives. Shown here are rare examples of toys, games, and other products from the years just following the novel’s publication in 1852.
March '15 - April '15
“Nothing from Something” is a new series of work by artist R. Mertens influenced by minimal and post-minimal art from the 60s and 70s and Minimal Music Visualization. Emphasizing the role of process in fiber arts and minimal music, this work addresses ideas of (mis)communication, spirituality, interconnections, repetition, post-structuralist aesthetics, and art history. R. Mertens is a Visiting Professor in Art at James Madison University where he is an artist and recording engineer. He owns and operates “The Weaving Room,” a textile and audio recording studio.More details »
A collaboration between Brown Library and the Department of Environmental Sciences, the exhibit is an outgrowth of a recent movement to link Art, the Humanities and place-based science in an effort to increase public awareness of the natural world, the environmental issues that impact our surroundings, and the complex interactions between human societies and the ecosystems in which we live. The exhibit is an offshoot of recent Art and Ecology classes at the Anheuser-Busch Coastal Research Center (ABCRC) on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. These classes bring Virginia public school teachers to the ABCRC to paint and draw local wildlife. Artwork from the classes is then used to produce traveling exhibits, which also incorporate comments from participants, photos of class activities, a summary of the local history, and a description of the major environmental factors shaping the landscape.More details »
January '15 - May '15
Although celebrated today as one of England’s foremost artists and poets, William Blake (1757–1827) worked and died in obscurity. Drawing from Special Collections’ Sandra Elizabeth Olivier and Raymond Danowski Reference Collection of William Blake, presented by the Danowskis to U.Va. in 2010, this exhibition traces Blake’s artistic achievement as well as the fascinating process by which later generations rediscovered Blake.More details »
The Book in Tibet: An Exhibition of Books from the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library and Alderman Library
November '14 - December '14
“The Book in Tibet” is a mini-exhibition curated by Ben Nourse with the assistance of Christie Kilby and Natasha Mikles, all current or former Ph.D. students in Tibetan studies at the University of Virginia. The exhibition is an adjunct to the Symposium on the Tibetan Book being held at U.Va. Nov. 6-8, 2014.
October '14 - August '15
The Civil War’s impact on the culture, politics, and geography of Virginia cannot be overemphasized: battles ravaged the landscape, blockades and other political maneuvers transformed the economy, and profound regional tensions resulted in the creation of West Virginia. This exhibition seeks to reveal how Virginia was changed by the war, focusing on the voices of those who experienced it. Letters, diaries, scrapbooks, maps, newspapers, songsheets, broadside advertisements, photographs, and physical artifacts drawn from across Special Collections’s rich holdings in the period reveal the lived experience of war.
The exhibition’s title is drawn from a manuscript of Walt Whitman who, soon after witnessing a battle in Virginia, wrote,
Who shall tell the story?…We talk I say of stories of this war—have histories of this war already; and shall have books of full detail, hundreds of them. In printed books, full histories of this war will come. O heavens! What book can give the history of this war?
The war stories in this exhibition include those of Confederate and Union soldiers, working women and war widows, black troops and southern Union sympathizers, enslaved people and prisoners of war, schoolchildren and University of Virginia students, poets and musicians, wounded soldiers and nurses. Diverse and contradictory, this plurality of stories confirms the continuing relevance of Whitman’s question.
September '14 - December '14
This exhibition features the work of the mid-century printmaker, painter, and commercial artist Charles Smith (1893–1987). Smith’s innovative printing techniques were an essential part of his teaching at the University of Virginia, where he was the first chairman of the Department of Art. The exhibition celebrates the Library’s recent grant award to digitize and preserve a film about Smith’s “block painting” technique; the film will be shown on a continuous loop in the exhibition gallery, accompanied by examples of Smith’s work from our collections.
September '14 - May '15
“Quantum Levitation” is an exhibit of photographs that gives the viewer a rare glimpse into the unusual world of superconductivity, where some materials brought to very low temperatures create a quantum wave that expels magnetic fields, allowing for the amazing property of levitation. The exhibit is part of a greater endeavor to foster a new kind of dialogue between physicists, designers, and graphic artists. It seeks to find new ways to present complex phenomena such as superconductivity to the public at large and, by doing so, to reimagine physics. Janet Rafner, a 4th year physics major and studio art minor, developed this photo exhibition as part of a summer internship working with the ‘Physics Reimagined’ outreach team at the University of Paris-Sud.More details »
August '14 - September '14
#Carbonfeed is a soundscape/data visualization installation. Through sonifying Twitter feeds and correlating individual tweets with a physical, data visualization in public spaces, #CarbonFeed directly challenges the popular notion that virtuality is disconnected from reality.More details »
May '14 - May '16
While the Rotunda undergoes a comprehensive, critically-needed renovation, artifacts typically on view there are on temporary display in the South Gallery of the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture. Items on display include the bell from the Rotunda, busts of Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette, and Alexander Galt’s statue of Jefferson.More details »
February '14 - August '14
This exhibition in the First Floor Gallery celebrates the now-forgotten poet Vachel Lindsay, the influential American poet and artist of the early twentieth century. Known for his tramping excursions of hundreds of miles across many states, when he traded poetry pamphlets and performances for food and lodging, Lindsay created an unusual visionary poetics of mystical beauty. Drawing on Christian theology, mythology, and visual symbol systems, he mapped an American spiritual landscape in poems, books, artworks, and performances. Drawn from his massive archive here at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, this exhibition barely scratches the surface of his fascinating life and work.More details »
January '14 - February '14
Our annual mini- exhibition in honor of Martin Luther King Day. This year we share artifacts revealing the diversity of the University of Virginia student body.More details »
Eagle and the Lion: The War of 1812 (1812-1815)
January '14 - February '14
This mini-exhibition in the First Floor Gallery of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library celebrates the bicentenary of the war, with original manuscripts, printed books, and artifacts related to the war and to its most famous musical offspring, “The Star Spangled Banner.”
November '13 - January '14
Special Collections researcher Sue Rainey used numerous materials from our collections when working on her recent book, Creating a World on Paper: Harry Fenn’s Career in Art. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, Harry Fenn (1837-1911) played a key role in popularizing periodical and book illustration. The exhibition investigates his contributions to three highly successful serial publications of New York’s D. Appleton and Company: Picturesque America (1872-74), Picturesque Europe (1875-79), and Picturesque Palestine, Sinai and Egypt (1881-83).More details »
October '13 - July '14
“Collecting American Histories: The Tracy W. McGregor Library at 75” features rare and significant broadsides, books, prints, and letters that illuminate many aspects of the American experience spanning from the early settlement of Virginia; to the clash of European powers over the North American continent; and to the servants and slaves on whose backs the American economy depended.More details »
September '13 - January '14
Throughout the twentieth century, artists, writers, and small publishers have reinterpreted the genre of the magazine time and again. Issued serially and sent through the mail to subscribers like most popular magazines, the projects on display variously reimagine the magazine as both a medium for the work of a particular creative community and as a creative genre in and of itself.
The exhibition includes original issues of six American magazines held in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library: VVV, Folder, Semina, Aspen, S.M.S., and Raw. These varied periodicals document particular moments in the history of Surrealism, the Beat movement, Pop Art, and the graphic novel. On view are works by dozens of artists and writers including Marcel Duchamp, Frank O’Hara, Wallace Berman, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, and Art Spiegelman.More details »
June '13 - September '13
This exhibition showcases some of the landmarks of dystopian fiction. The popularity of this genre suggests that readers have a fascination with societies in which poverty, suffering, and oppression isolate the individual, and populations are ruled by nightmarish totalitarian regimes. The exhibition is inspired by the critically-acclaimed young adult novel Quarantine, written by Tom Voorhies and Lex Hrabe. Hrabe is a U.Va. graduate and one-time student employee of the Small Special Collections Library.More details »
Thomas Jefferson Revealed
April '13 - June '13
“Thomas Jefferson Revealed” is an mini-exhibition of spectacular treasures pertaining to Jefferson, all drawn from the collections of the University of Virginia Library. Items include a ticket from the “Jefferson Lottery,” a letter from Jefferson to Maria Cosgrove, one of Jefferson’s engraved calling cards, and even a lock of his hair.
The variety of tools, materials, equipment, and supplies (not to mention the knowledge, skills, training, and techniques) required for the preservation of U.Va. Library objects is impressive. This exhibit showcases a few of the tools found in Preservation Services in Alderman, the Audio and Film Labs in Clemons, and the Dell Conservation Lab.
The physical exhibit is on view in the Stettinius Gallery of the second floor hallway in Alderman Library.More details »
March '13 - April '13
“Miniature Books and Money” was launched as a partner project to an exhibition at the Virginia Arts of the Book Center, “Monumental Ideas in Miniature Books 2.” Drawing almost entirely from the McGehee Miniature Book Collection, the exhibition featured almost 100 miniature books, showcasing some of the ways that one topic–money–can be approached through this 12,000 item collection.More details »
January '13 - July '13
“experimental beds” is a set of six color etchings by Judy Watson, an Indigenous Australian artist who visited the University of Virginia in October 2011 as an artist-in-residence at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection. Inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s architectural drawings of U.Va., Watson developed her ideas in collaboration with Professor Dean Dass and advanced printmaking students. The resulting prints use Jefferson’s drawings layered with images from Watson’s visit to Monticello and her experience at U.Va.More details »
Embracing Equality: Before and Beyond Brown v. Board of Education, 1950-1969: An American Civil Rights Exhibition.
January '13 - April '13
Racism and discrimination, traditionally oppressive institutions in American history and culture, were challenged by the Civil Rights Movement (1945-1970). The “Jim Crow” system remained in place for nearly seventy years, until the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision re-energized equal rights activism. This exhibition highlights local, state and national Civil Rights events through selected legislation, letters, reports, speeches, and photographs from the University of Virginia Library, and the papers of individuals and organizations at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.More details »
January '13 - September '13
“Drawn from Life: Collecting Cartoons and Caricatures” is an exhibition featuring original and printed artworks from the Golden Age of Illustration. Selections from the private collection of John Francis are on view alongside highlights from the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, including published works by the artists featured in Francis’s collection, works by other artists in a similar vein, and selected examples of American commercial art of the same period.More details »
October '12 - September '13
The recorded history of Flowerdew Hundred begins in 1618, when the Virginia Company of London granted George Yeardley a thousand acres on the James River, but as early as ten thousand years ago, successive groups of Virginia Indians began to occupy the site. English colonists, enslaved African Americans, Union soldiers, and countless others later followed—each group leaving behind evidence of their daily lives. Over the past several decades, a clearer picture of Virginia’s early inhabitants and their ways of life has emerged through archaeological excavations at this property. This exhibition features fascinating artifacts and new ways of thinking about one of Virginia’s most interesting archaeological sites.More details »
August '12 - January '13
This exhibition explores the City of Charlottesville’s 250 years of history, from the periods through the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, annexation and the industrial revolution, and racial segregation and urban development. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library and the University of Virginia Community Relations Office.More details »
March '12 - August '12
Using manuscripts, rare books, and artifacts, this exhibit traces the rhythms and pitches that reverberate through the collections at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. “Sound in Early America” is a collaboration between The Jefferson Trust, the McIntire Department of Music, U.Va. Music Library, and the Small Special Collections Library in conjunction with the Soundscapes of Jefferson’s America Symposium.More details »
February '12 - August '12
Featuring rare and beautiful first editions from the University Library’s Lillian Gary Taylor Collection of Popular American Fiction, “Bestsellers” explores American reading habits from the earliest works of popular fiction in the late 18th century to today’s blockbusters. Mrs. Taylor compiled a significant collection of bestselling novels and lovingly recorded details of each book in her collecting journals. Mrs. Taylor’s notebooks, authors’ manuscript materials, early bestseller lists, scripts and photos from film adaptations, and modern bestsellers complement the items from the Taylor Collection.More details »
October '10 - January '11
The U.S. federal government depository library program distributes government publications to libraries which make the information available to the public. Alderman Library was designated a federal depository library in 1910—shortly before World War I began. Through flyers, posters, and other publications the federal government promoted support for our Allies and a spirit of sacrifice on the part of every American—encouraging the “Army of 100,000,000” that would eventually win the war. The mission of the federal depository library program is to preserve all of these publications. Many of the materials in this exhibit were drawn directly from the Alderman federal depository collection.More details »
September '09 - July '10
The University of Virginia has presented the same challenge to many eminent architects: how does one build on a masterpiece? As the University has grown, Jefferson’s architectural ideals have been tried and tested, adapted and interpreted. This exhibition explores the wide range of solutions to the architectural and planning problems posed by adding to a growing university. From the picturesque of the 19th century, to the classicism of McKim, Mead & White, to the modernism of the 20th and 21st centuries, architecture at the University of Virginia reflects national trends and responds to Jefferson’s unique vision.More details »
March '09 - August '09
Celebrating the bicentennial of Edgar Allan Poe, “From Out That Shadow” was created out of a partnership between the Mary and David Harrison Institute of American History, Literature, and Culture and the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia, and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Poet, literary critic, visionary, inventor of the detective story, and master of the macabre, Poe is recognized as one of the most influential and widely read American authors of the nineteenth century, and his work continues to fascinate schoolchildren and scholars alike.More details »
The Niche is a moving image exhibition project in the Fine Arts Library at the University of Virginia.
A different video or animation work is featured each month in continuous loop on a sixty-inch monitor mounted in a highly-trafficked part of the library. There is one personal surround sound chair for viewing as well as several pairs of wireless headphones. The project has been ongoing since 2009.More details »
January '08 - January '09
Maps of North America printed during the three centuries after European contact illustrate not only the great strides in scientific, technological, and geographical knowledge during this period, but also express the aesthetic tastes, political agendas, and economic ambitions of those who made and used maps as they shaped the modern world. These rare and treasured documents offer insights into past human experience and attract people with diverse historical interests, who continue to find new ways to read old maps. In celebration of Dr. Seymour I. Schwartz’s pledged bequest of his collection of American maps, this exhibit features highlights from the more than 200 rare, historic items in the collection.More details »
Featuring archaeological artifacts from the University of Virginia’s Flowerdew Hundred Collection, this permanent exhibit presents material evidence of Virginia’s early inhabitants: Native American pottery sherds; arms and armor used to defend the new colony; refined, imported wares from Europe; and American-made goods, including items manufactured by African Americans. The materials from U.Va.’s Special Collections also on display—images from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century maps and books—illustrate the importance of the historical record in the study of material culture.More details »
This permanent exhibit offers highlights of the Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection, the most comprehensive collection of letters, documents, and early printings of the Declaration of Independence. The exhibition sheds light on not only the writing and signing of the Declaration, but also on its first printing, distribution across the colonies, and future impact on American history. The collection is on permanent display in the Declaration of Independence Gallery. An accompanying documentary film is available for viewing in the gallery.More details »
November '03 - March '03
“Portraits from the Golden Age of Jazz” features a collection of black and white photographs of jazz musicians by William P. Gottlieb. During the 1930s and 1940s, Gottlieb photographed the contemporary jazz scene for The Washington Post and Down Beat magazine. His incisive portraits evoke the essence of the era and capture unforgettable images of jazz greats such as Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker, and many others.More details »
May '03 - November '03
In 1970, 450 undergraduate women arrived on Grounds as part of the University of Virginia’s first fully coeducational class. Although the U.Va. that they encountered was still very much a man’s university, they were by no means the first women to make their mark here. This exhibition highlights the experiences of some of the first women to live, study, and work at the University, who paved the way for full coeducation.More details »
November '02 - May '03
“Lewis and Clark” features the maps that Thomas Jefferson had owned and studied as he planned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s journey to the Pacific and back. This exhibition reflects a re-envisioning of the Library’s 1995 exhibition and catalogue Exploring the West from Monticello: A Perspective in Maps from Columbus to Lewis and Clark.More details »
June '02 - October '02
This exhibition celebrates the American stage—our playwrights, their plays, and that creative talent which transforms words into living theatre. A testament to our cultural heritage, the items assembled here capture the excitement and dynamism of more than two centuries of American theatre history. They take us simultaneously behind the scenes and into the limelight.More details »
September '01 - February '01
This exhibition takes its name from a hymn composed a century ago by two African-American brothers, James Weldon and J. Rosamond Johnson. Written in the days of the Jim Crow South, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” inspired African Americans to persist in their struggle for equal rights.More details »
March '01 - September '01
In May 2000, the University of Virginia Library received 447 rare books, manuscripts, and maps from the estate of Paul Mellon. Celebrated as a philanthropist, art collector, and breeder of thoroughbred horses, Mellon was also a passionate book collector and amassed one of the greatest libraries of original documents of American history. Although Mellon was originally from Pittsburgh, he adopted Virginia as his home state and, through his bequest, ensured that items from his collection significant to Virginia history remained in the Commonwealth. “Private Passions, Public Legacy” is the first full-scale display of a collection that has been in private hands for over half a century.More details »
March '01 - April '01
Overshadowed by the tremendous contributions made by Thomas Jefferson to establish the University, Madison’s role is often overlooked, although he worked closely with Jefferson to realize his vision for an institution of higher education to prepare students for their responsibilities as citizens of the new Republic. After Jefferson’s death in 1826, Madison was elected the University’s second Rector and guided the University through its fledgling period of development, a period marked by financial difficulties, the departure of several of its first faculty, and episodes of disruptive student unruliness. This exhibit marks the 250th anniversary of Madison’s birth.More details »
September '00 - February '01
This exhibition on censorship in the United States hopes not so much to judge censors and censorship but instead to provoke questions. The prevalence of the red pen in a country founded on the Bill of Rights suggests that most people consider some things or ideas too dangerous or offensive to be made widely available. Is there a line in the sand? And if so, where do you stand? Where are your limits of tolerance? As you move through the exhibition, we invite you to consider whether or not there are restrictions which you might impose on the First Amendment. Are there situations in which you might support the suppression of materials or ideas?More details »
November '99 - April '00
The Book of Revelation has always been something of a Rorschach test—especially in America. In the short history of the nation, probably no other book has justified as many soap-box sermons and hare-brained schemes as it has, and perhaps none ever will. But neither has any book produced a more profound vision of America’s hopes, duties, dreams, and destiny.More details »
June '99 - October '99
The University of Virginia’s history is filled with fascinating tales, amusing traditions, and inspiring alumni. Through photographs, letters, and mementos, “All the Hoos” explores the history of the University through the lives of its students and its faculty.More details »
October '98 - March '99
University of Virginia Special Collections is home to the Sadleir-Black Collection, a comprehensive compilation of Gothic literature that forms the heart of “Sublime Anxiety.” The gothic in general, and this exhibition in particular, explores the tension between what we most fear and what we most desire. Its extraordinary popularity today, more than 200 years after the publication of the first gothic novel, shows us that the concern with freedom and connection is as relevant as it has ever been.More details »
April '98 - September '98
Were the sixties the best of times or the worst of times? Did America evolve as a nation and we as individuals? Are we better for the experience? We who were there have our own answers, but it is the historians who will write the collective answers for posterity. In any case, for better or worse, this dynamic, controversial, exciting time was our youth, our creation, and our legacy, and this exhibition is an attempt to revisit it, share it, and interpret it.More details »
The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Literature on Prayer, Ritual, and Meditation from the Religious Traditions of Tibet, India, and Nepal
November '97 - March '98
A fortuitous combination of events and personalities has made the University of Virginia Library the repository of one of the most extensive collections of Tibetan literature in the world. “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” exhibition aims to demystify the sacred Tibetan texts on death and dying and to create an opportunity to share the wisdom of these ancient beliefs and practices with the University community and beyond.More details »
April '97 - July '97
The Catalogue of an exhibition of rare books, manuscripts,maps, engravings, and photographs related to the literature of nature written about western Virginia from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries, this exhibition is based on the research for The Height of Our Mountains: Nature Writing from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley, much of which took place in the Special Collections Department of Alderman Library.More details »
January '97 - April '97
For “The Most of Special Collections,” U.Va. Library staff and friends identified twenty one categories that would provide superlative examples of the Library’s collections, and within each category they made appropriate selections for display. The description of each item in the exhibition was written by the person who chose the item.More details »
September '96 - December '96
Angelica Schuyler Church, the daughter of a general in the Continental Army and the wife of a prominent British businessman, traveled in social circles that included the most prominent figures of her time. The Church archive contains correspondence from the period of the founding of America, including letters from George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and the Marquis de Lafayette.More details »
April '96 - September '96
Dome Room of the Rotunda
An exhibition on the history of the Armed Services Editions, paperbacks distributed to members of the American Military during World War II.More details »
October '95 - January '96
The fire of October 27, 1895, was a disaster: only the shell of the Rotunda remained standing; the Annex was a smoldering ruin; and two-thirds of the University Library’s collection was destroyed. But the University did more than simply reconstruct the Rotunda. In the wake of the destruction emerged a rebuilt Rotunda, designed by Stanford White; three new buildings at the south end of the Lawn; a revitalized University Library; and a University with a growing national reputation.More details »
A Frost Bouquet: Robert Frost, His Family, and the Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature
March '06 - May '96
From sheet music containing his original lyrics to some of the creative achievements of his family, items of poet Robert Frost’s work and ephemera, included in this exhibition, demonstrate the depth of the University of Virginia Library’s Clifton Waller Barrett collection.More details »
The WSLS-TV News Film Collection, 1951-1971, comprises thousands of 16mm news film clips and related anchorperson scripts created by Roanoke, Va., television station WSLS during the mid-20th century. A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities funded the preservation and digitization of this collection. Content of the news stories varies greatly from Massive Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement to soapbox derbies and beauty pageants. The WSLS-TV news film collection is now available to the public in digitized form through the Library’s online catalog, Virgo. Each news story is searchable by both free-text keywords and controlled subject terms via Virgo; the collection record also offers date-based browsing. The online exhibit features a survey of the collection’s many subjects.More details »
1999 (Online only)
James Rogers McConnell, who is commemorated by the Aviator Statue outside of Clemons Library, was a U.Va. student who died while flying for France in the first World War. The James Rogers McConnell papers consist of approximately 210 items, including 160 letters written by McConnell. The letters date from 1915, when McConnell served with the American Ambulance service on the Western Front in France; 1916, the year of the formation of the Lafayette Escadrille, and, 1917, ending a few days before McConnell’s death. The letters provide a vivid picture of McConnell’s service in the cause of France.More details »
Society Ties: A History of the Jefferson Society
First Floor Gallery, Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture
As the University of Virginia’s oldest student organization, the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society counts the likes of 28th President of the United States Woodrow Wilson and author Edgar Allan Poe among its members. Today, nearly two centuries after its founding on July 14, 1825, the Jefferson Society remains one of the largest and most active organizations on Grounds. This exhibition, curated by authors Thomas Howard and Owen Gallogly, adapts portions of Society Ties, the recently-released history of the Jefferson Society and student life at UVA.
1998 (Online only)
The Barrett Daycare Center, formerly the Janie Porter Day Nursery, has been providing quality child care for the Charlottesville community for over sixty years. The records of this facility document the growth, successes, struggles, and changes in the African-American community in Charlottesville. In addition, the records tell much about conditions in other organizations such as this one in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and throughout the nation.More details »
The University of Virginia Library Celebrates the Acquistion of its Four Millionth Volume: a handmade book by Claire Van Vliet of the Janus Press based on Rita Dove’s poem, “Lady Freedom Among Us.”More details »
Fact, Fiction, Forgery: Thomas Chatterton and Literary Invention
First Floor Gallery, Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture
Ever since his untimely death at 17, Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770) has been one of England’s most fascinating literary figures. His “Rowley Poems”— pseudo-medieval poetry presented as the work of a 15th-century priest—is one of the most famous of all literary hoaxes. That England’s leading men of letters were so unprepared to expose it spurred important advances in textual scholarship. Yet underpinning Chatterton’s forgery was prodigious literary talent, tragically silenced by his presumed suicide. Such credentials made Chatterton irresistible to the Romantics and Pre-Raphaelites, who mythologized him in their own poetry, and Chatterton continues to inspire artists intrigued by issues of literary authenticity and invention. This exhibition traces Chatterton’s career and enduring influence through items from a major new acquisition.
2000 (Online only)
The history of the Jewish community of Charlottesville shares much in common with the broad sweep of the Jewish experience in the South and throughout America. It is a story of colonial-era Sephardic Jews and of nineteenth-century immigrants first from Bavaria and Wurttemberg and then from Kovno and Minsk. It is a story of peddlers and merchants, and of involvement and leadership in local government, the arts and education. It is a story of the commitment of a few to the creation and maintenance of local civic and religious institutions.More details »