Browse Exhibits

Many Happy Returns: An Exhibit in Celebration of Assorted Anniversaries

In 2016, Ellis Library celebrated its 100th birthday, but it turns out that we were not the only ones with an important anniversary that year! This exhibit brings together a selection of items associated with the most important literary anniversaries celebrated in 2016, including the deaths of two literary giants—Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare—on consecutive days in 1616, and the birth 200 years later of one of the greatest writers of the 19th century, Charlotte Brontë. In addition to these major milestones, the exhibit also features some anniversaries that are at risk of escaping notice, such as the 500th anniversary of the publication of Erasmus' New Testament in Greek and the 150th birthday of the science fiction writer H. G. Wells.

Many Happy Returns was presented by the the Special Collections & Rare Books Department of the University of Missouri Libraries in 2016. The exhibition was curated by Timothy Perry. Website constructed in Omeka by Timothy Perry.

Life and Letters in the Ancient Mediterranean

The world of the ancient Mediterranean is both strange and familiar. It is a world removed from us by thousands of years, but a world whose influence on everything from art and science to literature and philosophy has been profound and enduring.

This exhibit brings together the strangeness and familiarity of the ancient past, concentrating in particular on the literary and intellectual legacies of ancient Greece and Rome. It considers aspects of the ancient world that differ markedly from the modern, but also some of the ways in which the ancient world has survived into our own. It considers, too, the various technologies that have been used to preserve these legacies from antiquity down to the present day, from ancient scrolls to medieval manuscripts to the printed book.

About the Exhibition

Life and Letters in the Ancient Mediterranean was presented by the Department of Classical Studies, the Museum of Art and Archaeology, the Special Collections & Rare Books Department of the University of Missouri Libraries, and Gamal Castile in September and October 2016. The exhibition was curated by Gamal Castile, Patricia Kelly, Benton Kidd, and Timothy Perry. Website constructed in Omeka by Timothy Perry.

, , ,

Engraved Throughout: An Exhibition of Wholly Engraved Books

Engraving is an intaglio method of printing in which the text or image to be reproduced is incised into a copper plate. This copper plate is then covered with ink and wiped clean, leaving the ink only in the incised grooves. A sheet of paper is placed on top of the plate and the paper and plate are then passed through a rolling press, which forces the paper down into the ink-filled grooves. The text or image is thereby transferred to the paper. Towards the end of the 15th century, engraving was adopted as one of the principle techniques used for the illustration of books. Engraving, was not generally favored, however, for the reproduction of large amounts or text—letterforms are very difficult to engrave, so it was much easier to use moveable type, of the sort developed by Johannes Gutenberg, to print the text of a book. A few engravers, however, did undertake to produce books in which both text and illustrations were wholly engraved. This exhibition features engraved books housed in Special Collections & Rare Books, and includes some of the finest engraved books ever made.

Engraved Throughout was presented by the the Special Collections & Rare Books Department of the University of Missouri Libraries in 2017. The exhibition was curated by Timothy Perry. Website constructed in Omeka by Timothy Perry.

Winds of Change

We talk about the weather when we have nothing else to say. When the weather is unpredictable or unusual for a significant period of time, we talk about climate change. A strong majority of scientists today believe that global climate change is occurring, and that it is caused by human activity. However, we have to distinguish between weather and climate. According to NASA, “The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere "behaves" over relatively long periods of time.” In other words, climate is weather with history, and to truly explore what climate change means for the future, we must understand the weather patterns of the past.

This exhibition investigates the relationship between weather and time by questioning past perceptions, examining measurement and prediction practices, and surveying sources of historical data.

About the Exhibition

Winds of Change was curated by Alla Barabtarlo, Timothy Perry, and Kelli Hansen in March 2016 in conjunction with the 12th Annual Life Sciences and Society Symposium at the University of Missouri. Digital imaging by Amy Spencer, Rebecca Benson, Ekaterina Shevchenko, and Kayla Thompson. Website constructed in Omeka by Kelli Hansen.

, , ,

Vesalius at 500


Born in 1514 in modern-day Belgium, Vesalius studied at the Universities of Louvain, Paris, and Padua before becoming a professor of anatomy and surgery at the University of Padua. His primary contribution to the history of medicine was his emphasis on dissection and firsthand observation. Vesalius differed from his colleagues because he used his observations to challenge ancient and often inaccurate Greek and Roman medical writings, which formed the basis of all medical knowledge for over a thousand years.

Vesalius at 500 showcases materials from the Libraries’ collections that helped to shape Vesalius’ career, including medieval manuscripts and early printed books on medicine. The centerpiece of the exhibition is Vesalius’ most famous work, De Humani Corporis Fabrica. The Libraries hold two copies of this important book, a second edition printed in 1555, and a later edition from 1568. Recognizing MU’s strength in human and animal medical research, the exhibition considers Vesalius’ effect on the history of veterinary medicine with several early illustrated works on animal anatomy. Works of Renaissance science are also included in order to situate Vesalius within the world of sixteenth-century scientific thought.

Browse the Exhibition

About the Exhibition

Vesalius at 500: Student, Scholar, and Surgeon was curated in 2014 by a team of rare book librarians from the J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library, the Zalk Veterinary Medical Library, and Ellis Library’s Special Collections and Rare Books department: Alla Barabtarlo, Kelli Hansen, Julie Christenson, Amanda Sprochi, and Trenton Boyd. The exhibition draws on MU Libraries’ special collections of more than 100,000 original artworks, manuscripts, rare books, and historic documents.  

, ,

Kindred Kingdoms

Complex interrelations with kin have been a subject of lore and literature since time immemorial.

National folklore, classical mythology, and literary works are full of enthralling stories of familial lineage. Kinship became a subject of intense anthropological research in 1870, when Lewis Henry Morgan, in his Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity, defined kinship as the "links between people established on the basis of descent, marriage, or adoption."

A century later the study of kinship was thoroughly revamped, having rendered some of Morgan's definitions obsolete. Nowadays kinship is considered a "disputed territory," studied in sociology, medicine, genetics, and even political economy (Goody, De Jorio). Additionally, according to Edward Wilson, the idea of kin selection plays a very important role in evolutionary biology, helping to explain problems ranging from sibling rivalry to the virulence in disease-causing microbes.

Modern studies of kinship do not limit it to humans, thus our exhibit invites you to look at kinship in the kindred kingdoms of nature, placing man in relation to flora and fauna. Sometimes these juxtapositions cross the boundaries between the kingdoms and show striking similarities among plants, animals, and people. In fiction, such relationships even result in the transformation of people into animals and plants, such as mythic Daphne turning into a laurel tree (her Greek name says as much), Arachne into a spider in Ovid's Metamorphoses or Gregor Samsa into a giant insect in Kafka's Metamorphosis.

We use this opportunity to show treasures from our collections, as well as to explore what makes us human.

, , , ,