Upcoming Exhibits

Winter-Spring Quarters 2023

But Is It a Book?
January 3 through April 28, 2023

What is a book? In its simplest sense, a book is a medium for recording information, usually text or images inscribed on a writing surface and held together by some type of binding. But does a book have to have a material embodiment? Is an audio book a book? Is an e-book a book? Are books art? Is writing art? Can book objects be art objects? Can art objects be books? How do we read them? And in what context? How do we decide whether non-traditional book objects belong in a research library or a museum? “But Is It a Book?” explores the range of formats, materials, and research potential of objects that do not conform to the traditional conception of a codex book and highlights objects that one might not expect to find in Special Collections. The show will explore questions such as, can materiality function as text? It also examines ways in which we read. The centerpiece, Wolf Vostell’s Betonbuch, offers a case in which the object straddles the book and art spheres and an interesting one in which the materiality may have consumed the text, and a discussion of a “reading” of the Betonbuch using scientific instruments.

Spring-Summer Quarters 2023

Dog Fight: The Animal Experimentation Debate in 20th-Century Chicago
May 8 through September 1, 2023

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, researchers at the University of Chicago and neighboring institutions joined together to form the Illinois Society for Medical Research (ISMR), establishing a united front against increasingly vocal antivivisection protests. Activist groups, led by the popular socialite Irene Castle McLaughlin, known for her role in reviving interest in modern dance, advanced legislation at the city and state level to ban the use of pound dogs for research and teaching with, many scientists believed, the ultimate goal of ending animal experimentation completely. In response, the ISMR assembled a broad coalition of university and business leaders, church and women’s groups, and kennel clubs in order to defeat the proposals, achieving victory with what became known as the “Arvey Ordinance” (named for Jacob M. Arvey), which allowed universities to access unclaimed pound dogs. The Arvey Ordinance formed a template for similar struggles across the United States, making Chicago a symbol in decades-long debates about the ethics and practice of animal experimentation. The exhibit will feature material from multiple periods of contest, including the early years, post-WWII compromises, and later debates, showing how the debates about animal experimentation were also ideological contests about how Chicago’s major universities should fit within the economy and power structure of an expanding metropolis.

Autumn Quarter 2023

Capturing the Stars: The Untold History of Women at Yerkes Observatory
September 18 through December 15, 2023

Capturing the Stars illuminates the history of women at Yerkes Observatory and demonstrates how their labor contributed to the advancement of the science of astronomy. Visitors will learn how and why women came to Yerkes, about their scientific work, and their lives after Yerkes. In so doing, this exhibit introduces visitors to the history of astronomy and women’s history in early twentieth century America while also emphasizing the importance of Yerkes Observatory within a broader, global scientific community.

Capturing the Stars tells the stories of these women and their work in two major ways. First, by focusing on the lived experiences of individuals, this exhibit enables visitors to understand what it was like to be a woman working in astronomy during the early 20th century. Second, by homing in on the roles of women in the scientific practices of the Observatory it shifts the narrative beyond the work of female calculators to embrace the full range of women’s labor – including observing, photographing, calculating, measuring, analyzing, and publishing. This exhibit also highlights the unique position of women at Yerkes where, in contrast to the better-known histories of the Harvard College and Royal Greenwich Observatories, women contributed in every stage of scientific research.

Winter Quarter 2024

Bibliosaurus!
It was not until 1842 that the word "dinosaur" officially appeared in print, in a British Association for the Advancement of Science report written by Richard Owen. One hundred and eight years later, dinosaurs and prehistoric life have become vivid parts of our imagination. How did this transformation of taxonomic Victorian paleontology into part of our everyday vocabulary and experience occur? In large part, books, magazines, and other media brought ancient creatures to life, integrating them into diverse visual experiences. This exhibit explains this transformation of paleontological nomenclature into digestible and imaginative stories that captured the imaginations of generations of individuals. A rich variety of publications -- monographs, journal articles, popular books, comics, magazines -- will be supplemented with original art, posters, photographs, and occasionally, even fossils to explain the transformation of dinosaurs and prehistoric life from Linnean taxonomy to everyday figures, appearing in editorial cartoons, advertisements, corporate logos, clothing, and many other places.

Spring Quarter 2024

Scav Hunt
Quirky, impossible, and simply fun, Scav Hunt has set UChicago students on weekend-long searches for eclectic lists of miscellany since 1987. Bordering on the absurd, Scav has set world records, been the focus of many road trips, and prompted countless teams of students to band together in search of zany must-haves from each year's scavenger hunt list. This exhibit will look at Scav's origins, traditions, and search lists that have turned this annual springtime event into a beloved campus tradition.

Fall Quarter 2024

Korean Periodicals
The modern era (1900-1945) in East Asia was marked by political transformation, upheaval, and a multitude of efforts to transform culture and society. One of the defining characteristics of this era was the proliferation of modern print media across a number of fields. Periodicals, in particular serve as important primary source materials for better grasping the complexities of this time of change. However, modern-era materials pose a number of difficulties for researchers. Most significantly, older materials are scattered sporadically throughout multiple regions and locations, which makes identifying them challenging. Additionally, many sources are written in mixed Chinese-Korean script, which means a significant amount of time is required to read and understand them.

Motivated to respond to these obstacles, members of the University of Chicago formed a project team with Korean Studies specialists at other institutions to create a comprehensive bibliography of modern Korean periodicals. This exhibit will look at a range of periodicals, including yearbooks, school bulletins, and organizational publications that span Korean print history from the period of Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945), the pre-colonial period (1896-1910), and the post-colonial period from liberation in 1945 to the establishment of separate governments in North and South Korea in 1948.