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Exhibitions & Events

Highlights of ongoing and upcoming events from across Harvard's libraries. Find more events by visiting the Harvard Library calendar, or submit a library event.


Beyond Words

"Manuscripts from Church & Cloister," Houghton Library's portion of the collaborative exhibition Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections, is on display until December 10. 

Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections



Remorseless Irony and Sarcastic Pens: The Story of the Harvard Lampoon

Through Oct
Jester, Ibis, and Castle images

This exhibition provides a mere taste—to whet your appetite!—of some of the notable materials documenting the story of The Harvard Lampoon. Founded in 1876 by seven undergraduates, the Lampoon was inspired by magazines such as Britain’s Punch and energized by sharp competition with student publications such as The Harvard Advocate and The Harvard Crimson. On display are both original and digitally reproduced manuscripts, sketches, scrapbooks, clippings, minute books, magazines, posters, parodies, and other materials that comprise a small selection of the archives. A small accompanying exhibition, Humor at Harvard, displays related examples of joking and jesting over several centuries of Harvard students’ written and visual satire and pranks. The exhibition is on display in Pusey Library through October 2. 


Women of the Blackwell Family: Resilience and Change

Through Oct
Elizabeth Blackwell

The Blackwells were a multigenerational family of abolitionists, entrepreneurs, educators, musicians, doctors, writers, expatriates, suffrage supporters, and women’s rights activists. The family was characterized not only by their ideals, but also by strong personalities and complex relationships. This exhibition focuses on seven women of the Blackwell family from 1830 to 1950, displaying items that highlight personal and professional relationships, including with many of the most important and influential thinkers of the 19th century. Considered collectively, they reveal a family who was always on the move and who—despite numerous hardships—turned their beliefs into action for the improvement of society. The exhibition is on view at Schlesinger Library through October 21.


The Land Remains: A Century of Conservation in America's National Parks

Through Nov
Map featuring national parks

The maps in this exhibition showcase units of the National Park Service in all stages of their history. Many date from before the idea of the government preserving areas of natural beauty or cultural significance had even formed. Many are from the first days of preservation of a site. Some show the process of creating a park and the struggle to protect and preserve hallowed ground while still allowing in the people for whom it is preserved. We hope that these maps will remind you of the beauty and importance of this country’s natural and cultural treasures, and inspire you to #FindYourPark. The exhibition is on display in Pusey Library through November 1.


Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections

Through Dec
Page from an illuminated manuscript

Beyond Words is a collaborative project showcasing more than 260 manuscripts from Boston-area collections, dating from the 9th to the 17th centuries. In Houghton's portion of the exhibition, "Manuscripts from Church & Cloister," the emphasis is on the centrality of books to monastic life. Male and female monasticism revolved around religion, but at its heart was a cult of the book: not just the Bible, all books. Monastic scriptoria guaranteed the survival and transmission of classical literature and learning. Reverence felt for texts and their authors is manifest in the beauty of the books that were crafted in monasteries and convents. Manuscripts on display highlight the scriptorium as a space both for the production of manuscripts and for the human collective that produced them. The exhibition is on view in Houghton's Edison and Newman Room until December 10. 


From Crayons to Calligraphy: An Exhibition of Japanese Student Artwork, 1949–1951

Through Dec
Drawing of schoolchildren

This exhibition showcases a small segment of the several hundred pieces of artwork Gutman Library received as part of the Francis J. Daly Japanese Student Artwork collection, donated in 2014. The pieces depict aspects of life in Japan ranging from local landscapes to festival celebrations. Japanese elementary, middle and high school students of varying genders and geographic locations contributed to this collection of artwork that includes embroidery, origami, batique, carved wood objects, drawings, and paintings. The exhibition will run in Gutman Library's Special Collections through December. 


Corpus Delicti: The Doctor as the Detective

Through Dec

Although seemingly distinct disciplines, medicine and law—as medical jurisprudence, forensic medicine, or legal medicine—have been intertwined for centuries, and legal medicine itself encompasses a wide range of subjects, such as toxicology, psychiatry, chemistry, pathology, anatomy, autopsy, and suicide. Harvard Medical School’s involvement with legal medicine as both academic discipline and public service is the focus of a new display at the Countway Library. Corpus Delicti: The Doctor as the Detective is open through December, 2016 on the L2 level of the library.


The Bull Moose and the China Cabinet: Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Through Jan

Following the Republican Party’s nomination of incumbent William Howard Taft for president in 1912, supporters of Theodore Roosevelt’s candidacy formed the Progressive Party, which centered upon returning power to the people and creating a more equitable country by the right treatment of its citizens. For nearly 100 years, women had been fighting for equal rights on every front—education; labor; and intellectual, moral, legal, and human rights. Roosevelt’s Progressive Party placed women’s suffrage in its official platform. It was the first major political party to do so. This exhibition examines Roosevelt’s evolving position on women’s suffrage, and includes a page from his Harvard senior paper on women’s rights, correspondence, contemporary newspaper accounts and political cartoons, and artifacts documenting the role and influence of the women in Roosevelt’s life. It is on display through January 31, 2017, in the Theodore Roosevelt Gallery in Pusey Library. 




Banned Books Week Read-Out

Banned Books Week 2016

Bring your lunch and join us on the steps of the Harvard Law School Library as members of the HLS community read excerpts from our favorite banned books. We'll be reading from classic literature, children's picture books, and everything in between!


Wordsworth’s Prelude: How a Printed, Fully Illustrated Edition, Newly Edited from the Manuscripts, Would Have Been Impossible Without the Digital Age

1806 Henry Edridge portrait of William Wordsworth

James Engell, Gurney Professor of English, Harvard University leads this talk, presented by Houghton Library and the Harvard English Department. 


Book Arts to Birds: Houghton Library Student Fellows' Showcase

Student Fellows' Showcase

All are invited to join us for a series of presentations by Houghton Library's Undergraduate Fellows on topics related to Houghton’s vast and varied collections: from book arts to birds, manuscripts to machines, the stage and the sciences, medieval illuminations and Maoist alarm clocks. 


Tour of Widener Library


Widener Library tours are offered every Thursday at 3 pm, except University holidays and Commencement. Tours are open to current Harvard affiliates. The tours provide an introduction to Widener Library’s collections, an orientation to the building and an explanation of services available to library patrons. All tours begin in the main lobby of Widener, and will last approximately one hour. No registration is required.


Tour of Houghton Library

Houghton Library

Public tours of Houghton Library are offered every Friday at 2 pm. Attendees receive a general introduction to the library, followed by a tour of the Emily Dickinson, Amy Lowell and John Keats rooms, as well as the suite devoted to the Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson. Those wishing to take the tour should meet in the Houghton Library lobby. Reservations are not required.


Gold on Parchment: How Manuscripts Are Made

Detail from illuminated manuscript

What’s the difference between parchment and vellum, how are feathers made into quills and then how are they used, how did they paint the miniatures in manuscripts, and how did they make gold stick? All of these questions and more will be answered by Patricia Lovett, professional scribe and illuminator who specialises in the traditional skills and processes of mediaeval manuscripts, and will be using examples drawn from the exhibition(s) in her talk. This lecture is part of a series of public programs associated with Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections.


William Ivins, Philip Hofer and the Art of the Book

William Ivins

William Ivins asserted at the beginning of his tenure as founding curator of prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “The print collection of a museum cannot be formed solely upon Yes and No answers to the question: Is it a work of art? Rather must it be, like the library of a professor of literature, composed of a corpus of prints in themselves distinctly works of art, filled out and illustrated by many prints which have only a technical historical importance.” This lecture by Freyda Spira, associate curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, Metropolitan Museum of Art, will explore how Ivins’s approach to books influenced the phenomenal and wide-ranging collecting practices of Philip Hofer.