Exhibitions

The Global Other: Race and Empire in James Joyce’s Ulysses

From 06/03/2021 to 09/05/2021

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.

Digital Exhibition | “I Am an American!” The Authorship and Activism of Alice Dunbar-Nelson

From 10/20/2020 to 06/01/2021

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: Drifting, 1841–2020

From 09/30/2020 to 09/05/2021

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.

American Voyager: Herman Melville at 200

From 10/03/2019 to 12/21/2020

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.

Out of Many, One: Diversity and the American Experiment

From 06/11/2019 to 08/04/2019

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.

Off the Shelf… Game On!

From 11/25/2018 to 12/08/2019

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.

Of Two Minds

Creative Couples in Art and History

From 02/07/2018 to 11/25/2018

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.

Past Exhibition: Frankenstein & Dracula

Gothic Monsters, Modern Science

From 10/13/2017 to 02/11/2018

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.

Documents on Display: James Joyce, My Favorite Hero(es)

From 06/07/2017 to 09/03/2017

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.

Past Exhibition: Clever Criminals and Daring Detectives

From 04/08/2017 to 09/01/2017

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.