Chicago’s Newberry Library is celebrating its 125-year anniversary with a wonderful exhibit, The Newberry 125, and a number of special events. The Newberry 125 showcases 125 unique items from the library’s holdings that “best represents the Newberry’s mission, its record of collection development, and the community of learning it has engendered throughout a 125-year history.”
Founded by a $2.2 billion endowment in 1887, the Newberry was established as a free, public library in Chicago with the mission to”provide relevant research and learning opportunities for the public of Chicago and beyond.” It quickly became involved in educational programs for the public, and in 1897 the library began to focus building an exemplary collection on the humanities. In the 1940s, fellowships for advanced research and scholarly conference were introduced and they quickly became a major feature of the Newberry. The library opened four specialized research centers in the 1970s.
The exhibition is immense, housed in all three of the library’s galleries, and features a wide array of interesting items in a variety of mediums. It displays the Newberry’s “most immediately awe-inspiring and most utilized, consulted, pored over” items. The original unbound printed instantiation of Voltaire’s Candide, correspondence between a slave and his freed wife, letters from Hemingway, and the items in the gallery after the jump represent only a small portion of what the exhibition has to offer.
A complement to The Newberry 125, another exhibit entitled Realizing the Newberry Idea, 1887-2012 is also on display. This exhibition “draws upon inique letters, photographs, and other materials from the library’s own archives to reveal new perspectives on the Newberry’s past and the development of its current programs and collections.” There will also be several eventsworth checking out.