Thursday, April 10, 2014

New Exhibition at the Boston Athenaeum

T. Sturge Moore, The Little School. London, 1905.
Bound by Sybil Pye. Athenaeum Purchase, John Bromfield Fund, 2002

Collecting for the Boston Athenæum in the 21st Century: Rare Books and Manuscripts

April 23, 2014 - August 9,  2014

This Exhibition is a celebration of some of the most beautiful and important rare books and manuscripts acquired by the Boston Athenaeum Library since 2000. Many of the books to be exhibited are handsomely illustrated such as Thomas Pattison Yeats' Institutions of Entomology which is celebrated for the individual life-size paintings of insects that were added to the pages of the book by Louisa, Countess of Aylesford. La Création, which was printed in Paris by Francois-Louis Schmeid in 1928, is illustrated by numerous multicolored art deco woodblock print. Fine bindings will also be featured in the exhibit. A particularly unusual one of engraved tortoise shell, dating from 1693, covers The Truest and Largest Account of the late Earthquake in Jamaica.

All of the works on view are “extraordinarily rare.” “‘Rare’ means not very many of them,” Stanley Cushing, Anne C. and David J. Bromer Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, explains, “or they could be very valuable, they have very interesting previous owners, or unusual bindings. The show is a selection of a select view. This is the cream of the crop of everything I  have bought since I have been curator.”

Cushing joined the Boston Athenæum staff in January 1971 and for many years headed the Conservation Laboratory. He became the Athenæum’s first curator of rare books in 2002. He was later appointed curator of rare books and manuscripts and became the Anne C. and David J. Bromer Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts in 2012.

“The reason I am curator now is that I worked for decades as a conservator at the Athenæum and knew where we had collected and where the gaps wear. I have worked on filling those gaps. We have built what is meant to be a didactic collection, to show to members, researchers, and staff. They are meant to be studied and all are available for examination and study.”

About the Boston Athenæum:

Founded in 1807, the Boston Athenæum is one of North America’s oldest cultural institutions. The first floor of its National Historic Landmark building at 10 1/2 Beacon Street, Boston, including the Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery, is open to the public Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There is a $5 admission fee for non-members to special exhibitions. Other public events at the Athenæum include exhibitions, lectures, readings, panel discussions, films, and concerts. For membership, events, and other information, please visit or call 617-720-7604.

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