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MIT Libraries unveil new exhibit space

Sheet music cover for 'Mother Tech.'
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Sheet music cover for 'Mother Tech.'
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Image courtesy / MIT Libraries

A once-blank wall outside the Institute Archives, in Building 14's first-floor corridor, has been transformed into a literal window into MIT's remarkable special collections. Construction is complete on the Maihaugen Gallery--a secure, climate-controlled space that will showcase some of the extraordinary items from the MIT Libraries' collections. The first exhibit, A Celebration of Gifts, opens Friday, April 18, with a community celebration beginning at 1 p.m.

The exhibit will feature rare and unique items donated to the Libraries by MIT alumni, faculty and friends. Among the treasures that will be exhibited to the public for the first time are items from the collection of the Institute's founder, William Barton Rogers. These include his personal copy of the 1713 edition of Sir Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica, an albumen print of a trilobite discovered by Rogers in Braintree, Mass., and his map of The Geology of Virginia, which was well used in the Department of Geology & Geophysics and Lindgren Library before being transferred to special collections.

The exhibit will highlight two examples from the many collections of faculty papers that can be found in the Institute Archives: an original notebook belonging to Harold "Doc" Edgerton along with a large-scale reproduction of the 1938 stroboscopic photograph of golfer Bobby Jones; and publications and research tapes of indigenous languages by linguist Kenneth Hale.

The exhibit will include milestones in the history of science and American literature as well. Several rare books contributed by I. Austin Kelly '26, including a first edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass and a book of illustrations from the 1553 volume Historiae animalium by Konrad Gesner, founder of modern zoology, will be shown. Also featured in the exhibition are examples from the personal library of architect Charles Bulfinch, balloon prints from the Vail Collection, books by architect Santiago Calatrava with original artwork, and examples from the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 16, 2008 (download PDF).

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