Hidden Treasures

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Did you know that Northwestern University Library houses the only original sketch by James Joyce showing how he visually imagined the hero of his famous novel Ulysses? And the spyglass used by 19th century Alaskan explorers Robert Kennicott and Henry M. Bannister to produce the report that persuaded the U.S. government to buy Alaska from Russia? And a series of original comic books starring former South African president Nelson Mandela?

From now through March 15, 2012, these and many other rare, interesting, and occasionally just downright quirky items will be on display in the exhibit Hidden Treasures of Northwestern University Library, located just inside the entrance to University Library at 1970 Campus Drive in Evanston.

“Because we’re a library and not a museum, many of our most treasured materials are stored away where people can’t see them,” says Library staff member Nina Barrett, who created the exhibit. “This is a charming way to showcase what makes the Library such a rich and exciting intellectual resource.”

From the specialized Transportation Library comes a selection of airline menus dating back to the 1950s, evoking a world in which air travelers could expect highballs, caviar, and cigarettes as part of the onboard experience. From the Music Library, which is internationally recognized for its commitment to classical music of the 20th century, comes an original manuscript by composer György Ligeti (who composed the eerie, primordial sounds that accompany the appearance of the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey) and a selection of unusually large batons once wielded by world-renowned recording artist and conductor Fritz Reiner.

Items from University Archives spotlight aspects of NU history, for example, the beloved English professor whose biggest fan was Groucho Marx, and the early stage presence of the movie star most of us remember best either bearded and robed as Moses, or shirtless in Planet of the Apes.

The exhibit is free and open to the public Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays 8:30 to 5. Members of the Northwestern community with a valid Wildcard can visit during all open Library hours.

For more information, contact Clare Roccaforte, c-roccaforte@northwestern.edu or 847-467-5918.

Above: A Hidden Treasure from Government Information: The first map of the proposed boundaries for the state of Illinois by master cartographer John Melish, dated 1818. Long-forgotten Kaskaskia appears as the state’s capital.