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The Collation

Exhibition transformations

It’s that time of year again: for two weeks every four months or so, the Folger’s Great Hall locks its doors and transforms from one exhibition into the next. Or, perhaps that’s how it seems to Folger visitors and readers and staff who are barred from the space and have to wait to see the next show. If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind those closed, locked doors, let me give you a little glimpse . . .

sign at entrance to the Great Hall

The old exhibition, the one that’s coming off view—we take that down on the very first day. Cases are unlocked, books are unstrapped from their exhibit mounts, facsimiles and labels are gathered up, and everything returns to its home back on the shelves, in the drawers, into the archives. Then the work begins.


Have you ever seen a book in one of the exhibition cases and thought you’d like to examine it? If it’s from the Folger’s collection, and if you’re a reader, of course you can. I was delighted to learn the circulation desk has loose-leaf binders with the call numbers of all the books included in past exhibitions. It’s a wonderful way to spend one’s time in the reading room!

Richard M. Waugaman, M.D. — September 19, 2011

That’s a nice point. I always like to see if there’s an exhibition label in the back of a book I’m looking at, but it hadn’t occurred to me to go at it from the other way around!

Sarah Werner — September 19, 2011

[…] In addition to her background in museum exhibitions, she holds an MFA in poetry. (See the full Collation blog post for more fascinating information (what ARE all those noises during installation?) and many more […]

Behind the Scenes: Exhibition Transformations « Manifold Greatness blog — September 20, 2011

I’m excited to be the guest curator for the smaller show, which is an offshoot of this exhibit, that will be visiting libraries around the country. It has the same title and will be at Hope College in Holland, MI during March 2012. The Folger/Bodleian/Ransom Center curators will provide us with text panels, and I will be selecting books from Hope’s Special Collections to complement the narrative and writing display text to go along with them. I was guest curator of The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition with the Public Museum of Grand Rapids and Israel Antiquities Authority, and I absolutely love this work. If you will be in Michigan in March, plan to come see the exhibit. We’re the only midwestern venue!

ellen middlebrook herron — September 20, 2011