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.
Beloved illustrator Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) was an avid book collector as well as creator, and bequeathed the Rosenbach more than 600 rare editions which enhance our collection in important ways. Through selected objects from this collection, Recent Acquisitions from the Bequest of Maurice Sendak will explore not only the literary and historical significance of these books but also why they were meaningful to their collector.
Bookplates and Book Collectors from 1480 to the Present
Presenting beautiful and curious specimens from five centuries of book ownership, from a 15th-century coat of arms to engravings inspired by Romantic artists, The Art of Ownership delves into the stories of these bookplates, the rare editions behind them, and the lives of the men and women who owned them.
Exhibiting America's Past to Shape America's Future
From 1947 to 1949, one of the most ambitious traveling exhibitions ever mounted toured the United States. Aimed at promoting “a greater appreciation of the blessings of American heritage” the Freedom Train brought 126 of the nation’s most iconic documents, from Columbus’s writing to the Bill of Rights to the World War II surrender, to 3.5 million people across America.