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Exhibitions in Sterling Memorial Library: What's happening now


Pass it on: Preserving our Collective and Personal Cultural Heritage

April 15 - July 15, 2019

Curated by: Christine McCarthy, Director of the Yale Library Center for Preservation and Conservation Services with contributions from Preservation Department Staff

The Heritage Health Index, a landmark study conducted by Heritage Preservation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 2004, indicated that there were over 48 million objects and artifacts held in public trust by over 30,000 institutions in the United States. By the survey’s best estimates, collectively these institutions are stewards of 270 million rare books and scrapbooks, 152 million photographs, 4.7 million works of art, and 189 million natural science specimens. Many of these collections were considered, at the time of the survey, to be “at risk and [to] require immediate attention and care.”

The Yale University Library’s share includes 15 million bound volumes and close to 2 million photographs. Sound recordings and moving images add thousands of unique documentary and other content to that total. Digital files and their dependent software raise the stakes exponentially for cultural heritage preservation, presenting new challenges.  Caring for a collection of the size, breadth, and depth of the Yale Library may seem an impossible task, and yet it is the daily mission of the dedicated and talented staff of the Library’s Center for Preservation and Conservation. 

The exhibit showcases the artistic, surgical, scientific, and technological solutions executed by preservation specialists and conservation experts who accept the mission to preserve and conserve. Each look inside the Center’s laboratories and workrooms is paired with at-home strategies to inspire visitors to make it their mission to preserve their treasures or those of their families or communities.

Opening reception and lecture, Preserving Your Personal Treasures, by curator Christine McCarthy. Thursday, April 25, 3 - 5:30.


The Courtroom, The Couch, and the Archive: Janet Malcolm’s Journalism

May 13 - October 6, 2019 

Curated by: Eve Sneider '19

In the 1960s and 70s, American magazines like The New Yorker became incubators for a new kind of journalism—coined “New Journalism” by one of its progenitors, Tom Wolfe—which employed literary devices typically found in fiction to tell the stories of real people. “New Journalism” and its leading writers had a lasting impact on how journalists and others wrote compelling and readable nonfiction. Janet Malcolm entered the writing world in the late 1950s, just as the definition of journalistic writing was beginning to undergo a rapid transformation. Born Jana Wienerova in Prague in 1934, the daughter of a lawyer and a psychiatrist, she immigrated to the United States as a little girl. Here, she would earn a degree from the University of Michigan and rise to the uppermost echelon of the New York literary world, penning articles for the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. As her work evolved through the 1980s, 90s, and 2000s, it emerged at the fore of reimagining what journalism could look like.

The Courtroom, the Couch, and the Archive examines Malcolm’s engagement with three of the central spaces her works took place in—the lawyer’s courtroom, the psychoanalyst’s couch, and the biographer’s archive. Ultimately, the time Malcolm spent in these spaces would have a dramatic impact on how she told her own story. This exhibition draws from the Janet Malcolm papers at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, as well as other Beinecke and Manuscripts and Archives collections, to illuminate how she pieced together the stories of others and, eventually, of herself.