James Joyce’s novel Ulysses is considered a classic of British literature, and an iconic Irish story. Yet Joyce wrote the book outside the boundaries of British imperial rule, far away from Ireland. His writings advocated for the equality of Irish people, and against corrosive imperialism and ethnic nationalism. Using the plight of the Irish as an exemplar, Joyce noted and critiqued racial inequality among other oppressed peoples, which was a common feature of imperialist societies. Leopold Bloom, the main character of Ulysses, is a Jew, who himself occupied racialized and oppressed status in the Ireland of the novel. As a Jew, and thus a perennial outsider, Bloom asks readers to experience the real world as if they, too, are one of many global others.
This digital exhibition will be the first major public museum exhibition to examine the life and work of this important Harlem Renaissance author, educator, and Civil Rights activist.
Manjiro’s epic tale begins in 1841, when, as a teenager, he left his home village on a fishing trip. A violent storm left him shipwrecked and set the course that would lead Manjiro to become the first Japanese person to live in the United States. In partnership with the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia’s JapanPhilly2020 initiative, The Rosenbach will present a special exhibition on Manjiro’s legendary life, featuring holdings from our collection along with partner loans.
Few American writers have achieved the cultural impact of Herman Melville, author of the eternal classic Moby–Dick. Yet he died unrecognized for his genius by his contemporaries. To commemorate the two-hundredth anniversary of Herman Melville’s birth, The Rosenbach’s new exhibition, American Voyager, will explore the life, works, and legacy of this iconic but under-read author.
The American experiment in democratic government brings together all kinds of people to participate in civic life. This display of rare books, manuscripts, and artworks will highlight a diversity of individual experiences in our country’s history, from the founding of Plymouth Colony through the turmoil of the Civil War.
Match your wits with a giant game board as you learn more about the Rosenbach’s famous acquisitions! From the Bay Psalm Book and Ulysses manuscript to the Dracula notes, Marianne Moore collection, and Gratz family portraits and more, test your knowledge. Then, sit down for a series of more intimate, written conversations with selections from across our collections that have something to say—about their pasts, their owners, collectors, and makers—and join curators and other visitors as we unravel their mysteries.
Creative Couples in Art and History
Featuring a stunning array of creations from fine art and silver to books and maps, Of Two Minds: Creative Couples in Art and History explores the achievements of romantic couples across centuries.
Gothic Monsters, Modern Science
Frankenstein & Dracula: Gothic Monsters, Modern Science explores the creation of two of history’s most memorable monsters. In honor of the bicentennial of the publication of Frankenstein, handwritten pages of Mary Shelley’s groundbreaking novel will be displayed alongside Bram Stoker’s personal notes for Dracula for the first time, accompanied by scientific and medical works from the 19th century to the present.
The partner desk in the Rosenbach rare book library currently features books that inspired or were referenced in James Joyce’s literary endeavors. James Joyce: My Favorite Hero(es) features Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. Be sure not to miss the case on the mantle, which explains Joyce’s early interest in Homer.
Since the beginning of printing, readers have thrilled to true crime tales of highwaymen and murderers and the last words of executed criminals. This exhibition chases both criminal and detective characters across a wide historical landscape and offers the chance to test visitors’ own sleuthing skills.