Digital exhibitions are based on physical exhibitions that took place in the Newberry's three galleries. Browse additional Digital Exhibitions and find out more about other Newberry Digital Resources and Publications.
How did the simple idea expressed in the 1868 bequest of Walter Loomis Newberry—a “FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY, to be located in that portion of the City of Chicago now known as the North Division”—develop into the complex Newberry idea of today?
This exhibition explores the 125-year evolution of the Newberry from its 1887 opening as a “Library of Reference” to its 2012 presence as a unique and renowned research institution and “center for the humanities” that remains free and open to the public on the city’s near north side.
The display is organized around four major elements of the Newberry idea that are expressed in its mission statement for the early twenty-first century:
1. To Acquire and Preserve a Broad Array of Special Collections Research Material
2. To Sustain the Highest Standards of Collection Preservation, Bibliographic Access, and Reader Services
3. To Encourage Life-Long Learning, as well as Civic Engagement
4. To Foster Research, Teaching, and Publication
In this exhibition you can compare how each of the Newberry’s eight President and Librarians has conceived of the library; consider how their ideas have influenced collections, programs, and spaces; discover how a dedicated and talented staff has shaped the institution; and explore early precursors to current programs.
Over 125 years, the Newberry has been a vital and active place. So of course its full story can’t begin to be told in a one-room display. This exhibition is intended to open up several perspectives on the Newberry’s history, especially by concentrating on the evolution of some “firsts” and “beginnings.” We hope to whet your appetite for learning more about the library by exploring its archives, from which this exhibition is drawn.
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the US Civil War and in conjunction with the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Newberry Library will mount “Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North,” an exhibition of more than 100 items that focuses on the enormous, and costly, effect the war had on civilians.
Highlights of the exhibition include stunning paintings by Winslow Homer, Frederic E. Church, and other American artists of the period; first editions by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Louisa May Alcott; sheet music from Chicago-based music publishers Root and Cady; and magazine illustrations that depict the changing roles of women and children who supported the war effort. “Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North” is co-organized by the Newberry and the Terra Foundation for American Art. The exhibition is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art.
In this exhibition you will see a small sample of rare and special books on religion, published from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries that the Newberry collected over the last two decades. In 1991, Newberry Trustee Sister Ann Ida Gannon, former president of Mundelein College, arranged for the transfer of Mundelein’s rare book collection to the Newberry. Over the course of the following two decades, her example led to the donation in entirety or in part of eight additional religious collections – six institutional and two private – totaling over eight thousand volumes. Most had been acquired in Europe by religious institutions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to provide Chicago seminarians, friars, and priests with reading material requisite for mastering theology, classical literature, and history. This exhibition highlights a selection of these long-hidden treasures, which, now properly described and conserved, have the potential to kindle the imagination and stimulate the expansion of humanistic knowledge.