The rich collection of research materials in Penn’s 15 libraries consists of common items such as books, videos, and electronic databases, but Penn Libraries also offers much in nontraditional works, such as Medieval manuscripts, artwork, and even religious ritual items.
The “Recent Acquisitions” exhibit, which opened in two galleries in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, displays some rare items Penn Libraries has obtained in the last five years through donations and purchases.
“Its really an opportunity to provide the public with a crafted, interesting, intellectually substantial exhibition of our materials,” says David McKnight, director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library and organizer of the exhibition.
Among the most spectacular pieces on display is a 36-foot-long manuscript roll of the genealogical record of the kings of England up until 1461, when Edward IV became king. The record is written on 13 pieces of animal skin membrane that were sewn together. The document was created to dispel any doubts that Edward IV was a legitimate member of the House of York.
“A baptismal certificate was not enough,” says McKnight, “so, what they did in the Middle Ages was produce a 36-foot-long chronological roll, beginning with Adam and Eve and ending with Edward IV, and saying that Edward IV was a direct descendant of God.”
Also on display are religious items, including a Bible from the 1200s written on parchment in Latin.
The exhibit contains some ritual items celebrating the Jewish religion, including an ornately encased Torah scroll, a silver traveling Sabbath candleholder, and a brass Hanukkah menorah.
Memorabilia from U.S. presidential races is featured, too. Buttons from candidates from the 1950s and ‘60s are on display in the Kamin Gallery on the first floor of Van Pelt, along with the Currier and Ives Cries of London Trade Cards, which represent various trades.
The Kamin Gallery exhibit on the first floor of Van Pelt Library runs through Jan. 24, 2014, and is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The show at the Goldstein Gallery, located in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts on Van Pelt’s 6th floor, runs through Dec. 13. The gallery is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Originally published on October 10, 2013