Below find a select inventory of recent Library exhibits. For more information about any of these exhibits, please contact Special Collections & Archives staff. For information about exhibits and supporting materials from 1965-present, please consult the Library Records: Library Exhibits collection guide.
|2021, Spring||For the Health of the State: The Medical School of Maine at Bowdoin College||Shortly after Maine achieved statehood in 1820, the Medical School of Maine was established at Bowdoin College. For 100 years the School educated physicians to serve across the state and the world. In celebrating the bicentennial of Maine’s first medical education institute, we also look closely at the anniversary of its demise and contemporary issues surrounding access to healthcare.||Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian|
|2020, Spring||The State of Maine||Maine’s complicated road to statehood culminated on March 15, 1820, when it became the twenty-third state. Admitted as a free state in a bargain to allow slavery’s extension to Missouri, Maine’s early years were shaped by national party politics, tension between farmers and merchants, and competing visions of who constituted the people of Maine. The State of Maine uses rare books, political tracts, maps, and other materials to explore the unexpected and familiar narratives that propelled statehood, and considers Bowdoin’s unique role in that journey.||Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian|
|2020, Spring||Maine Eats!||On March 15, 1820 Maine became the 23rd state in the United States of America. As we mark this bicentennial year, let’s reflect on the delicious and diverse foods, preparations, and meals that we now understand to represent Maine eats! Diving into the Esta Kramer Collection of American Cookery, the Maine Community Cookbook Collection, and the Dining archives offers us a glimpse into Maine and Bowdoin’s traditional foodways.||Adeena Fisher, Assistant Director of Marketing and Special Projects, Dining Services; Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian|
|2020, Spring||A Peek into the Collections||Members of the Class of 2020 who work in SC&A select their favorite items from the collections.||Emma Kellogg ’20; Artur Kalandarov ’20; Tom Regan ’20; Carolyn Bailey ’20; Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian|
|2019, Summer||Bowdoin @ 225||The campaign to establish a College in the District of Maine began in the late 1780s and was, in part, motivated by the rapidly growing population in the District– estimated to have increased from 10,000 in 1750 to over 100,000 in the 1790s – with no convenient access to an institution of higher education. In the seven years before Bowdoin College was chartered in 1794, a group of influential Maine residents—among them justices, politicians, and clergy—deliberated about the particularities of the prospective college, including the thorny issues of sustained funding and location. This exhibit explores the founding and early years of Bowdoin College in celebration of its 225th anniversary.||Caroline Moseley, College Archivist|
|2019, Summer||Reunion: Class of 1969||A celebration of the Class of 1969 for their 50th reunion based on documents in the College Archives.||Emma Kellogg ’20|
|2019, Spring||See Your Place From the Sky: The Poetic Life of Robert P. T. Coffin||A selection of materials from the Robert Peter Tristram Coffin Collection at the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, curated by Amy E. Waterman ’76, in celebration of Longfellow Days 2019.||Amy Waterman ’76|
|2019, Spring||Interwoven: The Lives and Works of Martha Hall||For fiber and book artist Martha Hall (1949–2003), making art was a means of making sense of her world, including her extended battle with cancer. In this exploration of Hall’s archive, engage with her creative expressions as the tools she used to build powerful narratives to establish identity and community.||Kat Stefko, Director, Special Collections & Archives; Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagment Librarian|
|2019, Fall||Unfolding: A Pop-Up Journey Through Time and Space||The Bowdoin College Library’s collection of pop-up books contains over 2,000 volumes. People of all ages can find topics ranging from lighthearted to serious, innocent to risqué, nonsensical to informational, and everything in between. From Game of Thrones to architecture, Harley Davidson to national parks, there is something for everyone. Pop in to the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives (third floor) to explore for yourself! Movable paper parts first appeared in books in the 13th century. For hundreds of years, they were used almost exclusively as a scholarly tool. They have since evolved into what we know today as “pop-ups,” expanding in their use and their intended audiences. The books in this exhibit are just a small sampling of the cultural, spatial, and temporal travels made possible through pop-ups.||Emily Ha ’21|
|2019, Fall||Tension/Tenacity: Africana Studies at 50||2019 marks five decades of the Africana Studies program, the African American Society, and the John Brown Russwurm Center at Bowdoin College. Culled from the College Archives’ collections, Tension/Tenacity seeks to consider the programs’ strengths and struggles while highlighting the people who have championed their existence.||Lucy Ryan ’19|
|2018, Fall||Parker Cleaveland: A Life in Science||Bowdoin’s first professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, Parker Cleaveland (1780-1858), was a prolific polymath. His “An Elementary Treatise on Minerology and Geology” (1816) was the first American Textbook on the subject, and he was instrumental in building the College’s early teaching collections. This exhibit draws upon these rich holdings to explore Cleaveland’s pedagogical and scientific legacy.||Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian ; Caroline Moseley, College Archivist|
|2017, Spring||On a Different Wavelength: A Celebration of Color in Books||Four hundred years of scientific tracts and book arts illustrate how artists, scientists, and thinkers have interpreted the most basic, and most mysterious, phenomenon: color.||Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian|
|2017, Spring||Senator George J. Mitchell and a Legacy of Environmental Protection||Senator Mitchell served on the Committee on Environment and Public Works (1980-1994) and worked tirelessly for environmental protection—introducing legislation on nuclear waste disposal, clean water, clean air, and North American wetlands conservation. In his first book, World on Fire, Mitchell chronicles the environmental catastrophes of the greenhouse effect of burning fossil fuels; acid rain; and the destruction of the rain forests, hoping to both educate and activate readers. This exhibit offers a small glimpse into the George J. Mitchell Papers and the Senator’s dedication to environmentalism.||Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian ; Caroline Moseley, College Archivist|
|2017, Spring||The Life and Legacy of the Howard Brothers||The Howard family name has long been associated with Bowdoin, most prominently in relation to famed Civil War general Oliver Otis Howard, who graduated from the College in 1850. Less well known are his two younger brothers, Rowland and Charles Howard (Bowdoin 1856 and 1859), both of whom followed their older brother not only to Bowdoin but into the Civil War. Natives of Leeds, Maine, each brother found meaningful ways to help the country through and following those years of devastation. This exhibit explores the lives of Rowland and Charles Howard, and celebrates the culmination of a three-year project to digitize the family papers of all three Howard brothers held by Bowdoin College Library’s Department of Special Collections & Archives. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust generously funded the digitization of more than 180,000 archival items, all of which are now fully available online.||Meagan Doyle, Digital Archivist|
|2017, Fall||Bound and Determined: The Remarkable Physical History of the Book||Books tell stories beyond their words. Drawing upon Bowdoin College’s spectacular rare book collection, this exhibition explores
how type, illustration, printing, binding, and other physical aspects of the book bear witness to cultural, social, and historical innovation.
|Kat Stefko, Director, Special Collections & Archives; Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian|
|2016, Summer||Hawthorne-Longfellow Library: 50 Years Ago||In January 1960, Bowdoin College authorized the formation of an ad hoc committee to investigate building an addition to the college’s library, which was originally housed in Hubbard Hall. In March of the following year, after consulting with Keyes Metcalf, librarian emeritus of Harvard University, and the architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White (which had previously designed Bowdoin’s Cleaveland and Gibson Halls, Moulton Union and the Walker Art Building) it was decided that a new, freestanding structure was necessary to accommodate the College’s growing collections. This exhibit explores the history of the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library through its architectural development.||Sophie Mendoza ’02, Archives Assistant|
|2016, Spring||Shoot, Snap, Instagram: A History of Photography||This exhibition, curated by students in the fall 2016 Art History course, “Shoot, Snap, Instagram: A History of Photography in the United States” taught by professor Dana E. Byrd, brings together a diverse body of photographic material from the holdings of Special Collections & Archives to offer fresh perspectives on the history of photography. The sixteen student-curators conducted extensive research in Special Collections & Archives, discovering personal snapshots, student yearbooks, artists’ books, and early photographs that collectively tell the parallel story of photography’s technological and artistic evolution and its enduring centrality in our everyday lives at Bowdoin College and beyond. Materials are arranged by themes, such as intimacy, stream of consciousness, identity, and social justice, inviting viewers to consider closely particular aspects of photography’s complex and nuanced history.||Ethan Bevington ’19; Chandler Bramwell ’17; Luke Carberry ’18; JP Castells ’20; Steff Chávez ’17; Marle Curle ’17; Noah Dubay ’19; Ama Gyamerah ’17; Hugo Hentoff ’19; Kiraney Loving ’19; Teddy Lyman ’17; Emily McColgan ’17; Brian Pushie ’18; Lizzie Sands ’20; Kenny Shapiro ’17; Daniel Strodel ’20; Assistant Professor of Art History Dana Byrd ; Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian|
|2016, Spring||Reconciliation & Reconstruction: A Sesquicentennial Tribute: An exhibit honoring J.L. Chamberlain and O.O. Howard||Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain ( Bowdoin Class of 1852) was on Bowdoin’s teaching faculty when the Civil War broke out in 1861. He became one of over 300 Bowdoin alumni to serve in the Union Army but was one of only two faculty who left Bowdoin to join up. Chamberlain served most notably in the battles at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Petersburg, and Appomattox and rose to the rank of Brevet Major General. It was at Appomattox Court House on April 12, 1865, where U.S. Grant selected him to receive the formal surrender of the Confederate infantry. The event marked the end of the Civil War and the beginning of reconciliation between North and South. The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, more commonly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, was established during the Lincoln administration by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865. In May of that year, General Oliver Otis Howard (Bowdoin Class of 1850) was appointed commissioner, a post he would hold for seven years. This items displayed here commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Freedmen’s Bureau’s inception.||Meagan Doyle, Digital Archivist; Sophie Mendoza ’02, Archives Assistant|
|2016, Spring||All Together Now: Social Gatherings in Bowdoin History||A look at Bowdoin traditions including Ivies, the Thorndike Oak, AnnaLytica ceremonies, and the Phi Chi fraternity.||Laura Hernandez ’17|
|2016, Winter||Winter Wonderland||Images of winter on Bowdoin’s campus from the late 19th through the early 20th centuries.||Sophie Mendoza ’02, Archives Assistant|
|2016, Fall||What to Eat and How to Cook It: A Celebration of the Esta Kramer Collection of American Cookery||The Esta Kramer Collection of American Cookery contains more than 700 printed American cookery books that document the history of American cooking from the American Revolution to the food revolution ushered in by Julia Child in the early 1960s. The collection was carefully assembled by Clifford Apgar over three decades and is now named in honor of Esta Kramer, who made possible the acquisition of the collection through a gift to Bowdoin College. A lover of good food since she traveled to France in 1950, Kramer is a former assistant editor for Arts Magazine. Her collection joins that of her late husband, the New York Times art critic Hilton Kramer, whose personal papers also reside in the Bowdoin College Library’s George J. Mitchell Department of Special Colleges & Archives.||Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian|
|2016, Fall||The History of Bowdoin Dining||Bowdoin College Dining is consistently ranked in the top five for “best college food” and has received numerous awards and honors. This exhibition digs into the College’s archives to explore the history of food and dining on campus. What came before Moulton Union and Thorne Dining Hall? Strictly run meals at Estabrook’s Tavern with fish served on Saturday and fraternity banquets with caviar and filet mignon. What role did women play in the foodscape of Bowdoin before coeducation? The Society of Bowdoin Women and the Bowdoin Wives’ Association hosted teas, luncheons, and picnics and shared recipes in their newsletter, Chit Chat. From Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Pot-8-O dining club to the Bowdoin Organic Garden, the appetites of Bowdoin’s community often reflect their times. We hope this exhibition whets your appetite to spend more time exploring Bowdoin’s history in the Archives.||Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian|
|2016, Fall||Crocker Land Expedition, 1914-1917||Donald B. MacMillan (Bowdoin Class of 1898), who served on Peary’s 1908-09 North Pole Expedition, lead an expedition to claim Crocker Land for the United States and to explore it and surrounding regions. On April 23, 1914 MacMillan and a team traversed treacherous Arctic Ocean sea ice and reached the place Crocker Land should have been, but there was no land in sight. Crocker Land was a mirage. The journals displayed here have recently been digitized in a joint effort by the Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum and Special Collections & Archives. Complete versions of all the journals and correspondence can be viewed through the Special Collections website. Digitization of these materials was made possible by generous support from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.||Sophie Mendoza ’02, Archives Assistant|
|2016, Fall||Botanizing America: Citizens, Scientists and the Quest for a National Identity||From humble beginnings in the 1780s, botany rose to be the most popular science in the United States during the 19th century. As the first professional botanists emerged, so too did a legion of botanizers, or amateur scientists, who scoured the nation’s roads, bogs, forests, and hills in pursuit of scientific knowledge and personal enrichment. Together, they established the field of botany, helped to push the nation’s boundaries, and, in the process, defined it as a place of immeasurable natural resources and physical beauty. This exhibit explores the rich history of botany in the United States through a selection of breathtakingly beautiful early botanical imprints, U.S. field reports, and personal sketchbooks, including the work of Kate Furbish, who documented the wildflowers of Maine.||Kat Stefko, Director, Special Collections & Archives|
|2015, Summer||The Polar Bear: From North Pole to Campus||According to College lore Bowdoin alumni selected the polar bear as the mascot at an alumni association dinner in New York in 1913. Donald B. MacMillan (Bowdoin Class of 1898), present at that dinner, procured the bear during the Crocker Land Expedition and presented it to the college in 1918, where it has presided over athletic events ever since.||Sophie Mendoza ’02, Archives Assistant|
|2015, Spring||Bowdoin Professors and Pedagogy||An exploration of the history of teaching and teachers through the College Archives.||Maria Kennedy ’16|
|2015, Spring||BookART: Artists’ Books at Bowdoin||Artists’ books, defined simply as art objects that reference book-reading or book structure, have emerged as an art form relatively recently, in the early twentieth century. Early examples, typically cheaply made in small editions or as one-of-a-kinds, often defy traditional notions of what constitutes a book and communicate nonconformist, anti-establishment sentiments and disdain for traditional publishing. Taken generally, artists’ books have become more sophisticated, more complex, more elegant, more prolific, and more expensive. Artists’ books are intriguing, sometimes provocative, and always visually engaging, because they convey artistic expression outside the norms of traditional textual communication or illustration. They require us as “readers” to come to terms with the book’s meaning through the intimacy of handling and visual exploration—and by re-examining our own assumptions about how we communicate with one another. The exhibition includes works by artists from Maine, the United States, and internationally. Individually, each artists’ book shows a captivating creative approach; collectively, they demonstrate how vibrant and prolific this little known genre of artistic engagement has become.||Richard Lindemann, Director, Special Collections & Archives|
|2015, Fall||From the Depths of Cold Storage||An exhibit of creepy curiosities from Special Collections & Archives.||Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian; Carolina Deifelt Streese ’16|
|2015, Fall||Go U Bears: Bowdoin Athletics||A glimpse into the historical records of Bowdoin Athletics, including uniforms, footballs, hockey pucks, and more!||Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian|
|2015, Fall||Bowdoin’s Presidential Inaugurations, 1802-2015||On October 17, 2015 Clayton S. Rose will be inaugurated as Bowdoin’s fifteenth president. Presidential inaugurations are celebrations of transition and tradition for the whole campus community—during the ceremony President Rose will be presented with three official symbols of the Office of President: the Charter, the Seal, and the Keys. All of them fitted locks in one or another of the earliest college buildings. Exhibited here are records from the College archives marking an event that has occurred only 14 times in Bowdon’s 221 year history.||Sophie Mendoza ’02, Archives Assistant|
|2015, Fall||Word Art Collaborations: Selections from the Mark Melnicove Collection, 1970-2015||An assemblage—45 years of work—by Maine poet and publisher Mark Melnicove. His collaborations with writers and artists since 1970 on display in this exhibit—books, broadsides, zines, and word art—are drawn from his collection, recently acquired by the Library’s George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives.||Mark Melnicove|
|2014, Spring||Visualizing Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Pictorial Interpretations of
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin
|Having written Uncle Tom’s Cabin during her time in Brunswick, Maine, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel became an instant international bestseller. This exhibition draws upon the private holdings of Professor Richard Ellis (University of Birmingham) and the Bowdoin College Library’s Stowe Collection. The exhibit features various illustrations from the novel’s multiple editions published between 1852 and 1960, with a focus on the differences between the novel’s American and British illustrators.||R.J. Ellis, Professor, University of Birmingham; Richard Lindemann, Director Emeritus, Special Collections & Archives|
|2014, Fall||Envisioning Extinctions: Art as Witness and Conscience||September 1, 2014, marked the centenary of the extinction of the wild North American passenger pigeon, once the most numerous land bird on earth. Estimates place its population in the early nineteenth century at three to five billion birds, about 40% of the continent’s bird life. Despite these prodigious numbers, the wild pigeon succumbed to relentless hunting and continual disruption of its nesting sites. Using historic ornithological treatises, nineteenth century magazines and personal reminiscences, the exhibition encourages viewers to reflect upon the history of this bird and upon the rapid rate of species’ extinction. Originally displayed in concert with works by contemporary artist Walton Ford and Rebecca Goodale this exhibition as presented here offers a reflection on what has already been lost and puts forth a call to respond with thoughtful action to current threats to biodiversity.||Susan Wegner, Associate Professor of Art History|
|2014, Fall||Threatened & Endangered: Flora and Fauna of Maine: Artist’s Books by Rebecca Goodale||For the past fifteen years I have been making artist’s books about Maine’s rare plants and animals. Most of the time I work from the state endangered and threatened species lists provided by the Maine Natural Areas Program and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. These lists also include species in Maine that are federally protected. I did initially decide to restrict myself to the State lists and although I have on occasion veered away from that limitation I have remained, more or less, committed to that theme. I often begin by drawing the plants and animals I intend to represent. Some-times I travel to see them in their natural habitat and other times I work from specimens or animals in captivity. I do this with the help of many valuable resources, including: the New England Wildflower Society; Maine Entomology Laboratory; Maine Wildlife Park; Cape Neddick Wildlife Rehabilitation Center; the Chewonki Foundation; the Nature Conservancy; and the Maine Audubon Society. During these past fifteen years I have created approximately eighty related titles. Most are specific to Maine’s Threatened and Endangered Species Lists. Others are at the edges of my self-imposed limitations, portraying the unusual rather than the rare – and once in a while I have included the marvelous, the ordinary, or the extinct — Rebecca Goodale||Rebecca Goodale; Richard Lindemann, Director Emeritus, Special Collections & Archives|
|2013, Spring||Bowdoin Boys in Blue and Gray: An Exhibit Commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War||To commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, and to honor the role of Bowdoin’s students, alumni, and faculty during that struggle, Hawthorne-Longfellow Library presents an exhibition of manuscripts and photographs that illustrate how Bowdoin’s own were engaged in the causes of union and secession.||Richard Lindemann, Director Emeritus, Special Collections & Archives; Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian|
|2013, Fall||Sight & Sound: Launching the Next Century of Fine Arts at Bowdoin||The new Robert H. and Blythe Bickel Edwards Center of Art and Dance marks the beginning of a second century of fine arts in Bowdoin’s curriculum—the College first included formal courses in art and music during the 1912/1913 academic year. Sight & Sound, a new exhibition in the Bowdoin College Library, celebrates this “turn-of-the-century” by taking a look back at how art and music have enriched the learning and cultural life of the College from its beginnings.
The exhibition features examples from the Library’s rare book collection that have supported fine arts learning, including medieval illuminated manuscripts, songsters, musical settings for Longfellow’s poems, book illustration, and contemporary artists’ books. Teaching art and music at Bowdoin over the past century is also documented through the display of items from the Bowdoin College Archives. These materials remind us of how well the fine arts have thrived at Bowdoin and suggest a promising and exciting future for the performing and visual arts in the years to come.
|Richard Lindemann, Director Emeritus, Special Collections & Archives|
|2012, Spring||A New Vitality: Celebrating 40 Years of Coeducation at Bowdoin||“ … some form of coeducation is one of the most pressing needs of the College and the step best calculated to give new vitality to the entire Bowdoin Community.” (Pierce Report, Study Committee on the Underclass Campus Environment, May 1969.) This exhibition celebrates the fortieth anniversary of coeducation at Bowdoin – its “new vitality” – by chronicling that transitional time in the College’s history and by demonstrating many of the ways that women in the Bowdoin community have enriched the fabric of College life, both before and since the advent of coeducation.||Richard Lindemann, Director Emeritus; Caroline Moseley, College Archivist|
|2012, Fall||Do Re Me: A History of Music at Bowdoin College in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Meddiebempsters||… And may the music echo long O’er whispering pines and campus fair. Penned in 1901 by Bowdoin’s President Sills when he was a senior, and still heard today whenever voices join in “Raise Songs to Bowdoin,” these words seem especially fitting in 2012—the seventy-fifth year of the esteemed and storied student male-voice a capella group the Meddiebempsters! The exhibition Do ♫ Re ♫ Mi celebrates the Meddies’ anniversary with illustrations from the Archives of their grand tour to date, with a look back at the growth of academic music at Bowdoin, and with glimpses of extra-curricular music on campus over the years, in all its joyous variety. As Bowdoin’s President Coles wrote in 1961: A world without music would scarcely be human; a college without music would be dreary indeed.||Karen Jung , Music Librarian; Caroline Moseley, College Archivist; Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian|
|2012, Fall||ABC: Abecedariums and early writing books||The familiar phrase “readin’ and writin’…” refers not only to the basic skills of literacy, but historically also to the order in which these skills were taught. Reading came first, and as recently as the early nineteenth century many “literate” people could read but never learned to write. Two genres of books emerged during the late middle ages to advance these skills. One was the primer, designed to teach reading. Among primers, ABC books (sometimes called “alphabet books” or “abcededaria”) form a special category, useful especially for children in learning the basic element of reading: the alphabet. With the advances over time in printmaking techniques and book illustration, ABC books became not only didactic tools but sources of visual pleasure as well.
The other genre was the writing book, composed chiefly for adults and focused on the shape, construct, and proper technique for forming individual letters of the alphabet. The earliest medieval examples instructed scribes on how to stylize their writing for uniformity. In the Renaissance, a variety of writing books emerged as humanists sought to analyze and reconstruct the geometrical aesthetic of ancient Roman monumental lettering and artisans strove to establish the “ideal” proportions for individual letter forms.
|Richard Lindemann, Director Emeritus, Special Collections & Archives|
|2011, Spring||Pop Ups, They’re Not Just for Kids: The Harold M. Goralnick Pop-up Book Collection||Pop-up books by their very nature are intended to surprise and delight. They bring elements of animation and visual depth to what is normally a two-dimensional page, so that as readers our assumption of a flat, static expanse is completely disrupted by the added stimuli of motion, shadow, and form—the eye is forced to reconsider its linear approach to reading, and the mind must quickly adapt to unexpectedly complex visual cues. Pop-ups aren’t JUST for kids anymore.||Richard Lindemann, Director Emeritus, Special Collections & Archives|