More Than Just Books: NY Public Library Features Its Greatest Works

More Than Just Books: NY Public Library Features Its Greatest Works
Design

A celebration of 100 years of the New York public library's main building explores the human condition as described through various non-book items maintained within its collection.

Kyle Studstill
  • 13 may 2011

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the New York Public Library’s Steven A. Schwarzman Building, the library has curated an exhibition featuring the greatest works from its collection. The exhibition juxtaposes perspectives related to four aspects of the human experience—Observation, Creativity, Contemplation, and Society. These contrasts reflect not only a diversity of perspectives, but the incredible diversity of media that the library collects to archive the human condition. Within the Observation gallery, a print of Columbus’s first letter from the Americas is contrasted with photographs transmitted from Apollo 8. The Contemplation gallery juxtaposes images that invite you to look with others that provoke the viewer to look away; an archived adult magazine shares space with documentation of soldiers on a Civil War battlefield. Entering the Society gallery, the viewer is greeted with the Declaration of Independence in Jefferson’s hand, and the full regalia worn by a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Above are ack Kerouac’s personal effects, including inspired notes jotted onto a box of Valium.

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