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Past Exhibitions in Sterling Memorial Library: Hanke Exhibition Gallery

Previous Years







Empire and Resistance: Transisthmian Views of Central America

February 13 - August 13, 2023

Curated by Nancy Escalante PhD student Yale University American Studies

Empire and Resistance demonstrates the long, contentious history that links the United States and the seven countries of Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panamá. The exhibition focuses on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but the objects on display date from the sixteenth to twenty-first centuries, reflecting the shifting contours over time of empire and resistance to empire.

The regions of the isthmus were not always known as Central America. After gaining independence from Spain in 1821, they unified as the Federal Republic of Central America. The territory soon became a center of global attention. In the 1840s and 1850s, U.S. military expeditions invaded the region to secure a canal through Nicaragua; U.S. companies later built the Panama Canal Railway and Panama Canal. From the mid-twentieth century into the 1990s, civil wars drove Central Americans to immigrate to the United States, inspiring an international solidarity movement against U.S. imperialism. Today, U.S. intervention continues to provoke violence, create instability, and displace Central Americans from their homelands.

This exhibition’s central themes—activism and solidarity, movement and travel, forced migration, and religion—provide a transisthmian perspective that looks beyond national boundaries and across centuries of Central American history.


Subjects and Objects, Slavic Collections at Yale, 1896–2022

August 22, 2022 - February 5, 2023

Curated by Anna Arays, Librarian for Slavic & East European Studies and  Liliya Dashevski, PhD candidate in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

Collected over the course of more than 125 years, the materials in Subjects and Objects pose questions and highlight contradictions: How did the term Slavic collection come to encompass materials from so many lands, cultures, and languages that lie beyond that linguistical designation? How did Russia come to symbolize this region for Western observers—and why does that impression persist?

This exhibit explores how the Slavic collections from Yale’s libraries and museums present a chronicle of lived experience. Although the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe are all represented in the collections, the exhibit focuses on what are known as the Russian and Soviet “great powers” and their impact on the intellectual record. It considers the many ways in which collections are built, raising questions about future acquisitions: What lies ahead for the study of this region, which has been shaped by its own history and by the representation of that history in academic institutions? What role do collectors, researchers, and their subjects play in shaping cultural heritage collections?

Points of Contact, Points of View: Asking Questions in Yale Library Special Collections

March 14 - August 14, 2022

The inaugural exhibition in Sterling Library’s new Hanke Exhibition Gallery—Points of Contact, Points of View: Asking Questions in Yale Library Special Collections—features more than 60 unique documents, books, objects, and images, curated and displayed so visitors can experience firsthand how primary sources inspire inquiry, learning, and the creation of new knowledge.

The exhibition centers around the idea of asking questions—the foundation of research—as a way to gain insight into Yale Library’s outstanding collections and into the scholarly practices that lead to new discoveries.

The varied objects on display, selected with advice from dozens of library staff, include a seventeenth-century Arabic manuscript about the Nile River; a Korean atlas of the Chosŏn Dynasty; the original music and manuscript of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”; a sampler stitched by Kezia Stiles, daughter of Ezra Stiles; and some of Noah Webster’s handwritten notes for dictionary entries. The exhibition also includes related images and audiovisual collection materials that are on view in cases outside the Gilmore Music Library.

The Hanke Exhibition Gallery was specifically designed and built for optimal display of unique, fragile, and rare primary-source materials from Yale’s diverse collections. The gallery’s construction was made possible by the vision and generosity of Lynn Hanke, a member of the University Library Council, and her husband, Robert Hanke ’60.