Saturday, 7 March 2015

THE HIDDEN JEWEL OF U OF T: THE KELLY LIBRARY'S EXHIBITIONS

WEEKEND EDITION

BY JANINE ZYLSTRA & ALEX SOMERVILLE

Happy Saturday Musings Readers! It’s your social media coordinator here! Usually I’m tweeting out the posts of the day, but today I’m writing to tell you about a place that is near and dear to my heart. The John M. Kelly Library, or as I like to refer to it: The hidden jewel of the St. George Campus. What is so special about this particular library you ask? It’s the fantastic exhibitions that they display based on their rare books and manuscripts collection!

My collaborator, Alex Somerville, and I had the distinct pleasure of working with the Kelly Library to develop exhibitions based on their collections. Our work at the Kelly Library came with its highlights and challenges as it is a unique institution that intersects between libraries and museums.

Alex and the XX15 Exhibition that is currently on at the Kelly Library.
Alex and the XX15 Exhibition that is currently on at the Kelly Library.

EXHIBITIONS: PAST & FUTURE

Alex: I started working on exhibits at the Kelly in the fall of 2013. My first assignment was a portfolio of Shakespeare prints from the 1964 International Book Arts Exhibition in East Germany, which became Shakespeare and the Cold War. Since then, I’ve worked with the Kelly’s Punch magazine collection, the Henry Nouwen papers, and the rare books collection.

Janine: I began my work at the Kelly this past fall, and I had the opportunity to develop two exhibits. One which highlights their recent donation of three Welsh books, and a second which focused on Kunst Dem Volk, a WWII German Art Magazine produced by Hitler’s personal photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann.

HIGHLIGHTS

Alex: My favourite part of doing exhibits for the Kelly is uncovering, literally dis-covering, the stories behind the items I work with. I discover stories like Albert Kapr’s, who was director of the People’s Own Type foundry in East Germany, who used semi-transparent printing in his designs because of ink shortages in East Berlin.

Janine: I absolutely love the opportunity exhibitions give us to share our findings with others! When you work so diligently to discover the stories behind the items that you are researching, it’s so rewarding to see visitors to the library reading and engaging with the exhibitions.

Janine in the Rare Books Room at the Kelly Library posing with an issue of Kunst Dem Volk.
Janine in the Rare Books Room at the Kelly Library posing with an issue of Kunst Dem Volk.

CHALLENGES

Alex: One of the challenges of doing exhibits for a library, instead of in a more traditional museum environment, is addressing audience needs. Library users are goal and task oriented, and frankly, very few people who visit a library go to see an exhibit. This makes choosing exhibit items and writing labels a well-defined but difficult task. I focus on making text brief and easy to read, with catchy graphics and items to display.

Janine: My challenge came with the development of the Kunst Dem Volk exhibition. When writing interpretative panels and choosing images I always had to be conscious of the sensitivity of the material as it was produced during the Second World War and was endorsed by Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Stay tuned …

Be sure to check out the Kelly Library for our upcoming exhibitions! In the meantime enjoy the current exhibitions on until the end of March: TIME: Faces in the News of the Second World War and the XX15 exhibition curated by Alex!

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