Past Exhibits


Main Exhibit Space:

Other Library Exhibit Spaces:

Main Exhibit Space:

"It's no longer news to us": HIV/AIDS Educational Materials from Nigeria

December 1, 2008 - February 26, 2009

There is the fear that Nigeria is a catastrophe waiting to happen with the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  With funding from the Fulbright Scholar Program, Patricia Ogedengbe traveled to Nigeria for 6 months to collect what awareness HIV/AIDS materials are available to educate the general public. More...


"Travels and Vacations: From NU to the World"

October 7 - November 27, 2008

The Northwestern University Archives holds material pertaining to nearly every aspect of the history of Northwestern.  The Archives serves as the repository for both non-current official University records and a wide variety of other records including the papers of individual faculty members, the records of student organizations, materials pertaining to alumni, publications, photographs, scrapbooks, and artifacts.  Although materials at the Archives ostensibly deal with the history of the University, they can also pertain to a number of fields of study.  This exhibit showcases materials relating to travel by students and faculty from the 19th and 20th centuries.  On display here are items not only relating to leisurely travel, but also documentation of scientific and exploratory expeditions and military tours of duty.  A variety of formats have been combined to complete this display including but not limited to photographs, diaries, correspondence, itineraries, postcards, bills and receipts, brochures, clippings, and artifacts.  The materials relating to scientific travel also feature data and drawings.  War-related documents include maps, military correspondence, and propaganda leaflets.
This exhibit features material drawn from the papers from some of the most influential and significant figures in the history of the University.  Included in that group is Clarence Ver Steeg, prominent historian and former dean of the Graduate School, whose military service in World War II is documented here.  John Henry Wigmore, whose extensive travel is documented by a selection of personal items, was a member of the School of Law faculty from 1893 to his death in 1943.  Featured are materials from the collections of Robert Kennicott and Henry M. Bannister, naturalists and Alaskan explorers who were both instrumental in the establishment of Northwestern's former natural history museum.  Also included are the travel papers of Richard Leopold, formerly of the history department and a careful documentarian.  Leopold taught at the University for over thirty years and retired from teaching in 1980.

Confines of Content

July 8 - August 28, 2008

Confines of Content: an exhibition that draws together artists' books and fine print editions, items usually confined to the closed stacks of Special Collections or locked glass cases in the Africana Library...more


"Forever 29"
Chicago Hand Bookbinders

July 8 - August 28, 2008

This year's Chicago Hand Bookbinders Exhibition marks the organization's 30th anniversary. This past year, the CHB's 29th year, marked a transitional phase for the organization and, on the cusp of a new chapter in it's existence, it faces a struggle with its identity and direction.

The "Forever 29" exhibit reflects in many ways this struggle. It signifies this entity moving from youth to middle age. It represents a pivot point for the Chicago Hand Bookbinders, moving the organization into it's 30th year, where it begins in a new direction.

Life Turns on Two Wheels

April 29 - July 3, 2008

It was less the invention of the wheel than the invention of the second wheel and the pole that connected them that changed the course of human history, according to "Life Turns on Two Wheels," an exhibit at Northwestern University Library which traces the history of two-wheeled transportation. The free and public exhibit showcases advances in two-wheeled technology and includes related film screenings, lectures and events about two-wheeled vehicles, bicycles and bicycling. In addition to presenting historical materials about two-wheeled vehicles, the exhibit also will highlight the work of local organizations, including the World Bicycle Relief, Chicagoland Bicycle Federation and The Recyclery.

To view the silent video in conjunction with this exhibit, click on:

The following related events are free and open to the public:

, North Campus - April 29 - June 26 - books, posters, Northwestern University archive materials.

- May 10 - The Bicycle Thief, 1:00 p.m.; Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, 3:00 p.m. at the Block Cinema, Block Museum, Northwestern University campus.

CHARIOTS AND CHARIOTEERING IN THE ANCIENT ROMAN WORLD - May 14 - lecture by Dr. Lee Brice, Assistant Professor of history at Western Illinois University, 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., Northwestern University Library Forum Room, 2nd Floor, South Tower.

- May 16 - Northwestern University Library and the Athletics and Recreation Department will provide free bagels and refreshments for bicyclists from 8 to 10 a.m., at Northwestern’s Henry Crown Sports Pavilion, 2311 Campus Drive. From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the Wilmette Bicycle & Sports Shop will hold bicycle mini-clinics on maintenance, repair, and other topics.

- May 19 - A presentation by F. K. and Leah Missbach Day of World Bicycle Relief, will discuss the organization’s goal of providing independence and livelihood in developing countries through “The Power of Bicycles”; 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., Northwestern University Library Forum Room, 2nd Floor, South Tower.

, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY LIBRARY, 1ST FLOOR: World Bicycle Relief, May 12 - 21; The Recyclery, May 22 - 30; and Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, June 2 - 11.

SPOTLIGHT ON NORTHWESTERN THEATRE: Highlights from University Archives

February 26 - April 24, 2008

With a campus known for its creativity and its close proximity to Chicago, it is not surprising to find that Northwestern has a rich history of theatrical productions. The exhibit “Spotlight on Northwestern Theatre” reveals highlights of that history as documented by University Archives and other library holdings. Photographs, programs, scores and more make for a historical highlight of Northwestern University theatre productions from 1930 – 2008. While most of the exhibit focuses on productions created by the Theatre Department, there are highlights from Waa-Mu and the Dolphin Show. A bibliography and credits accompanies the exhibit.

Say the Word . . . : Manuscripts by Lennon and McCartney from the Music Library's John Cage Notations Collection

March 23 - April 24, 2008

The Northwestern University Music Library presents a mini exhibit of the Beatles manuscripts, which includes high-resolution facsimile reproductions of seven manuscript lyric sheets held by the Music Library.  The exhibit is located on the ground level of the Main Library, across from the Information Commons. For more information on the Beatles materials held by the Music Library, see the article on the Northwestern University NewsCenter website at: <>
and an article by the Chicago Tribune at:

M. J. and Zora: Melville J. Herskovits and Zora Neale Hurston

February - March 2008

This mini-exhibit is displayed just past the entrance stairs on the Library’s main corridor. It exemplifies the correspondence between Melville Herskovits and Zora Hurston. Items are from the Herskovitz Collection in Northwestern University Archives, and the exhibit also salutes the campus production of SPUNK, which runs February 15 - 24, 2008. Additional information about the performance is available from the following:

Department of Performance Studies: Performance Events
Theatre and Interpretation Center: School of Communication

New Student Week "The Multifarious Mr. Darwin"

September 3 - October 2, 2008

Northwestern University Library welcomes new and returning students with an exhibit of collections and services tied to the theme of  the One Book One Northwestern selection The Reluctant Mr. Darwin by David Quammen. On display are items from the library's collection that relate to the life and thought of the 19th Century naturalist Charles Darwin. Library services highlighted in the exhibit demonstrate how the library collects, preserves and provides access to important research materials. 

Items on display include a streamed recording of a music composition based on the Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle,  a children's book on the life of Darwin illustrated by Peter Sís, Northwestern course catalogs listing early 20th century classes on evolution, and many other interesting items from the library's main and special collections.Services highlighted include the process of preserving valuable books, the method by which materials from around the world are gathered and made available, and assistance with finding and researching the library's collections.Library departments participating in the exhibit:

Acquisitions and Rapid Cataloging
Academic Liaison Services
Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections
Government and Geographic Information and Data Services
Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies
University Archives
Other Exhibit Spaces:


African Women Writers

April - June 2008

African Women Writers features the works of Bessora, Osonye Tess Onwueme, Mariama Ba, Calixthe Beyala, Ama Ata Aidoo & more. Curated by Patricia Ogedengbe.

Art Collection

Jewelry as Art

August 2008 - February 2009

From ancient Egyptian rings to modernist sculpture-to-wear, jewelry is an
art form on a uniquely human scale. This mini-exhibit showcases a few shining examples of books from the Art Collection.

Animals in Art

March - August 2008

This mini-exhibit highlights just a few of the Art Collection's many books about the ways artists have depicted animals throughout history, from Garry Winogrand's humorous zoo photographs to Cartier's jeweled bird brooches and Franz Marc's yellow cows.

Government and Geographic Information and Data Service

Consider the Potato

April 21 - June 20, 2008

Solanum tuberosum. 
Last year some 320 million tons of them were produced, making them a key food source for over 800 million people in the world.   UNESCO’s International Year of the Potato is raising awareness of the increasingly important role the humble potato is playing in agriculture, economy and food security.   Employing materials from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, various international organizations, and even the Music Library, this exhibit celebrates the versatility of this amazing vegetable. A video from UNESCO on the potato and poverty is available for viewing.

Music Library

Traffic in Shame: "White Slavery" in Early 20th Century Chicago

The term White Slavery was coined in the early 19th century and refers to women sold into permanent sexual slavery and servitude.  In many documented cases, impoverished young women were lured to the U.S. by the promise of employment to big cities like Chicago or New York through traffickers in the U.S., only to be sold into forced prostitution. From 1900 - 1920, it was the subject of newspaper and magazine articles, pamphlets, books, feature films, public demonstrations, and federal, state and local legislation. After several years of debate, the U.S. Congress passed the White Slave Traffic Act of 1910, known as the Mann Act. The exhibit draws from federal and international documents, Chicago & Illinois government publications, the United-Seabury Library, and materials from NU's Library and department of Special Collections.

Music Library Holdings Exhibited Around the World

In addition to making its holdings of manuscripts and other rare materials available to students, faculty and visiting researchers, the Northwestern University Music Library lends items to museums for special exhibitions. Displayed are select items that have been presented in the United Statees, Austria, Germany, France, England, Italy and Switzerland. Catalogs are also included in the exhibit.

Special Collections

1933: An Exhibit Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Deering Library1933, A Century of Progress

June 18, 2008 - September 22, 2008

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of our beautiful Deering Library, we have selected a diverse cross-sectional representation of materials from some of the discrete collections held within the McCormick Library of Special Collections, all of which are united by a common thread: they were published or otherwise created in 1933, the year the Deering Library opened. Exhibited items range from material from Chicago’s Century of Progress exposition, which opened in 1933, to books, prints and ephemera from our outstanding collection of 20th century European art movements including French and Czech Surrealist and Italian Futurist pieces. From our Dublin Gate Theatre Archive we show photographs, production books, a scrapbook, and an original costume sketch by Gate co-founder Micheál Mac Liammóir relating to their 1933 production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Our Graphic Arts and Private Press collections are represented with artists such as Rockwell Kent, and include original layout designs by Bruce Rogers for the title page of a 1933 edition of Aesop’s Fables.In 1933 the global economic Depression was at its nadir – in the United States 1 in 4 workers was unemployed. This disastrous economic situation paved the way for certain radical political changes, and in January of that year - the same month Deering Library first opened its doors - both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler assumed command of their respective nations. Materials from our Roosevelt and Political Pamphlet collections, among others, illustrate the political scene.It was in these troubled times that our purposely anachronistic Collegiate Gothic-style building was created. Indeed it was in part because of the dire economic climate that the skilled craftsmen necessary to carve the oak and stone that grace both the interior and exterior of James Gamble Rogers’s building were available and affordable. The generous gift of the descendents and relations of Charles Deering, after whom the library is named, could not have been better timed. As it was when it opened in 1933, the Deering Library remains a space of serene and inspiring solace, a space which now serves as a frame for items which, sometimes surprisingly, were born in its same year.

Exhibits Committee
Northwestern University Library
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208-2300

Last updated: November 25, 2008