Road Trip of the Book!

   Posted by: rring   in Field Trips

[Posted by Sally Dickinson, Associate Curator]

I was invited to go on a field trip to New York with the Book History class at Trinity.  It was a beautiful fall day and proved to be inspirational in more ways than just a walk down Madison Avenue.  Our first stop was The Center for Book Arts.  It was a great opportunity for me to make contact with an organization that fosters creative work in making and reinterpreting the book.  I chatted with book artist Roni Gross as the class arrived and quickly looked at a collection of broadsides on poetry that was produced at the Center.  From my perspective as a curator and book arts devotee, it was extremely helpful to see historical presses and to participate in a printing exercise that Roni deftly guided us through.  She gave an overview of the history of printing before we dove into composing our names from monotypes for a group broadside.  We all got to pull a couple of prints from 2 working vandercooks, a type of press favored by artistic printers today.

Next stop was one of my favorite places in the city—The Morgan Library at the corner of 36th and Madison.  When I want to see how things should be done in a rare book library, I often look to the Morgan as an example.  “Money is no object” seems to be their motto, which works for uncompromising displays of cultural artifacts and a world-renowned collection of rare books and manuscripts.  Several years ago the brownstone mansion had been renovated and expanded with a stunning modern addition.  It’s important to have low light levels on paper artifacts and to support the bindings of fragile books.  The architecture supported these requirements in an elegant way.  The modern, plexiglass display cases at the Morgan had hidden lighting inside a metal frame that made the books & manuscripts a focal point.   I was an architect in my former life and sometimes I find myself looking at the design of the cases more than the treasures inside!  The highlight of the visit was a seminar with curator Roger Wieck, who showed the class some of the remarkable medieval Books of Hours from the library’s collection.  I was also impressed by our students’ ability to interpret, under Wieck’s guidance, the text and images of the 15th century manuscripts.

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