Upcoming Exhibits

Winter through Fall Quarters 2021

The Black Metropolis Research Consortium: Fifteen Years of Preserving and Documenting Black History and Culture in Chicago
January 21 through October 22, 2021
*Access to the Library is limited to current University of Chicago students, staff, and faculty; gallery closed but exhibition visible through glass wall

In 2021, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC), a Chicago-based membership association of libraries, universities, museums, community/arts organizations, and other archival institutions, is celebrating its 15th anniversary. The BMRC was initiated in the spring of 2006 at a meeting of chief executives from fifteen Chicago area institutions. Professor Danielle Allen, then serving as Dean of the Humanities at the University of Chicago, convened the meeting to discuss forms of collaboration that might support African American studies in the Chicago area. After a year of consortium construction and governance development, the BMRC was launched on July 1, 2006, with the appointment of its first steering committee and the election of its first board of directors.

This exhibition explores the history of BMRC and key aspects of the BMRC’s mission, which is to connect all who seek to document, share, understand and preserve Black experiences. It is the vision of BMRC to be essential to promoting discovery, preservation, and use of Black historical collections. Through consortial programs, the BMRC aids in expanding broad access to its members’ holdings of materials that document African American and African diasporic culture, history, and politics, with a specific focus on materials relating to Chicago.

Autumn 2021-Winter 2022 Quarters

Nikkei South Side: Japanese and Japanese Americans in Hyde Park and Its Vicinity
November 1, 2021 through January 28, 2022

*Access to the gallery may be limited to current University of Chicago students, staff, and faculty

Chicago’s South Side has long-standing but little-known relationships with Japan. In 1893 the Japanese Garden in Jackson Park was established for the World’s Columbian Exposition. In the same year the University of Chicago conferred its first-ever doctoral degree—upon a Japanese Divinity School student named Eiji Asada. Taking this momentous year as a point of departure, this exhibit highlights more than a century of connections between Japanese and Japanese Americans and the University and Hyde Park area.

During Japan’s Meiji and Taisho periods (1868–1925) the University of Chicago was a frequent destination for so-called “government students” from Japan. These elite scholars were sent by the Japanese government to acquire advanced knowledge in various fields, then to bring their expertise back home. Showcased are the campus activities (self-run periodicals, participation in cultural events) of some such students; letters of two notable alumni: Jiuji Kasai (class of 1913, and a long-term friend of the University) and Heita Okabe (a student of Amos Alonzo Stagg); and the baseball exchange program between the University of Chicago and Waseda University in Tokyo (established by Stagg and his student Fred Merrifield, who had taken a coaching position at Waseda).

Also recognized are several notable Japanese and Japanese American educators. Toyokichi Iyenaga (Far Eastern studies) was a popular lecturer in the University Extension, whose teaching received press coverage on multiple occasions. From the University Archives come letters by Professors Joseph Kitagawa (Divinity School), Akira Iriye (history), and Tetsuo Najita (history)—all eminent scholars in religious and intellectual history—that evidence their work in lobbying for visits by members of Japan’s imperial family, and in procuring from the Japanese government financial support for Japanese studies at the University. In the case of another reputable scholar, Yoichiro Nambu (theoretical physics), a glimpse into his 1950s research notebooks is afforded.

World War II substantially affected the University’s relationship with Japan. Due to U.S. wartime policies, Japanese students and scholars needed to leave the institution after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Because of its contracts with the U.S. Military (which concerned not only research for the Manhattan Project, but the conversion of some campus facilities into training sites for soldiers), the University was barred from admitting Japanese American students for over a year—even though the Oakland/Kenwood/Hyde Park area at the time had Chicago’s largest population of Japanese Americans that had been relocated from internment camps. The University’s wartime dilemma is traced through official correspondence with—and internal memos about—Japanese American applicants. Meanwhile, thanks to contributions from former residents, a large portion of the exhibit is dedicated to celebrating the once-bustling Japanese American community on the South Side.

Winter-Spring Quarters 2022

A Book By Its Cover
February 7, 2022 through April 29, 2022

*Access to the gallery may be limited to current University of Chicago students, staff, and faculty

A Book by Its Cover will explore how book bindings have developed, from the utilitarian structures of the medieval codex to decorative, modern and contemporary artist’s bindings, highlighting cases in which the paratextual elements of a binding contribute essential meaning to the texts that they envelop. Themes covered will include graphics and examples depicting basic binding structures (hardwood boards and stitching, manuscript waste bindings), case bindings, vellum bindings, decorated paper wrapper bindings and decorated bindings, fine bindings. Special sections on The Guild of Women Binders; Fine Binders such as Sagorsky and Sutcliffe; Dove’s Bindery; Publisher’s Bindings; Artist’s Bindings.

Spring Quarter 2022

On Reading Spring
March 21 through June 10, 2022

*Access to the exhibit may be limited to current University of Chicago students, staff, and faculty

Why do we all respond so similarly to the “characteristic and essential” traits of spring? Can we trace the genesis of too familiar rhetorical devices, poetic flourishes, and seasonal tropes to authentic, lived experiences of the seasons? How is the creative impulse vulnerable to the physical environment in which it germinates?

On Reading Spring explores these questions by pairing a selection of rare and unusual published works with archival letters, diaries, photographs, musical manuscripts and early drafts of poems composed between March and June. Through six thematic sections - Refreshment, Vulnerability, Epiphany, Restoration, Tenderness, and Joy - On Reading Spring considers the ways in which these diverse works reveal a sympathetic vernal experience across disciplines, cultures, and time periods.

The exhibit includes works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Margaret Danner, Emily Dickenson, Vivian Maier, Igor Stravinsky, Virgil, Virginia Woolf, and Carlos de Francisco Zea.

Spring-Summer Quarters 2022

The History of Comics/Graphic Medicine
May 9 through early-July 2022

This history and development of comics as a graphic and narrative medium can be traced from the late medieval/early Renaissance period to the present. Drawing on the rare book, manuscript, and archives collections, with additional materials from the general collections of the University of Chicago Library, this exhibition will present an overview of comics in the context of literary form, social and political expression, and medical care.

The exhibition will coincide with the annual international Comics and Medicine Conference, which is meeting in Chicago in the spring/summer of 2022.

Summer Quarter 2022

Encore viewing of The Black Metropolis Research Consortium: Fifteen Years of Preserving and Documenting Black History and Culture in Chicago
Mid-July through September 2, 2022

In 2021, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC), a Chicago-based membership association of libraries, universities, museums, community/arts organizations, and other archival institutions, celebrated its 15th anniversary. The BMRC was initiated in the spring of 2006 at a meeting of chief executives from fifteen Chicago area institutions. Professor Danielle Allen, then serving as Dean of the Humanities at the University of Chicago, convened the meeting to discuss forms of collaboration that might support African American studies in the Chicago area. After a year of consortium construction and governance development, the BMRC was launched on July 1, 2006, with the appointment of its first steering committee and the election of its first board of directors.

This exhibition explores the history of BMRC and key aspects of the BMRC’s mission, which is to connect all who seek to document, share, understand and preserve Black experiences. It is the vision of BMRC to be essential to promoting discovery, preservation, and use of Black historical collections. Through consortial programs, the BMRC aids in expanding broad access to its members’ holdings of materials that document African American and African diasporic culture, history, and politics, with a specific focus on materials relating to Chicago.

Autumn Quarter 2022

The Life and Work of University of Chicago Art History Professor Paul B. Moses
September 12 through December 16, 2022

The exhibition centers on Moses’ professional life and contributions to both the University of Chicago and the field of art history. Following a loosely chronological organization, the exhibition looks at his early life and academic accomplishments, including studies abroad; the relationships he cultivated with influential figures in the art world; his time as a professor at the University; his curatorial and research projects; and his work as a practicing artist.