April 9, 2007
One of the cases devoted to manuscript production at the current library exhibit.
Photo: Elisabeth Remak-Honnef
Library exhibit on history of the medieval and renaissance book
“Bibliophiles and Biblioclasts: Making, Breaking and Reproducing Medieval Manuscripts”
will be on display at McHenry Library through June 15. This exhibit on the history of the medieval and
renaissance book was organized, prepared, and installed last quarter by students enrolled in
History of Art and Visual Culture 153. The class was held in McHenry Library and taught
by Elisabeth Remak-Honnef.
The items in the exhibit, selected from the University Library’s main stacks and
Special Collections, provide a glimpse of what the course attempted to cover in a quarter--
a survey of about 1,000 years of the evolution of book production and use in Europe. Concentrating
primarily on medieval illuminated manuscripts and the first century of printing, the class looked
at different types of books to examine not only how they were made, for whom they were made, how
they were used, and how and why they were decorated, but also how they have survived.
As part of their course work, the students wrote the descriptive captions for the items
on display as well as longer descriptions of medieval manuscripts and early printed books.
They also prepared short reports on such aspects of book production as parchment preparation,
pigments and gilding, scripts and paleography, writing materials, and binding techniques.
The cases contain facsimiles of about 30 illuminated manuscripts, grouped primarily by subject
matter and function; two of the cases also contain original illuminated parchment manuscript pages.