Of Virginia Library To Exhibit Treasured Items From Collection Of
12, 2001-- An exhibition of rare books, maps, manuscripts
and other items on display through August 15 in the University of
Virginias Alderman Library provides a view of Americas
history through the eyes of a generous and devoted collector.
"Private Passions, Public Legacy: Paul Mellons Personal
Library at the University of Virginia" presents highlights
from the recently acquired collection of the noted American philanthropist.
In the exhibit in the librarys McGregor Room, visitors can:
the New World with Christopher Columbus in a letter he wrote
describing what he found. Published in 1494, this rare edition
of the Columbus letter includes four woodcuts by European artists
attempting, for the first time, to depict the New World.
the alarm in Thomas Jeffersons voice in his famous "fire-bell
in the night" letter. In this 1820 letter to John Holmes,
former senator from Maine, Jefferson declares his concerns over
the Missouri Compromise. He likens the nations slavery
crisis to having "the wolf by the ear, and we can neither
hold him, nor safely let him go." Five other letters by
Jefferson are also on display.
the American West through the hand-colored illustrations of
artist-explorers George Catlin and Prince Maximilian of Wied,
Germany, from the mid-1800s.
first-hand the trial of abolitionist John Brown in the hand-written
notes of presiding judge Richard Parker, who sentenced John
Brown to hang.
exhibit also has items relating to U.S. exploration and westward
expansion, colonial and revolutionary Virginia, and the Civil War.
Included are early maps of Virginia and North America, letters written
by George Washington and James Madison, items relating to the Lewis
and Clark expedition, and hand-colored portraits of Native Americans.
Mellon loved his adopted state of Virginia and avidly collected
maps, books, and manuscripts concerning the state," said Michael
Plunkett, director of U.Va.s Albert H. Small Special Collections
Library and co-curator of the exhibition. "We are thrilled
to show some of these treasures that have remained in Virginia thanks
to Mr. Mellons generosity."
his death in February 1999, Paul Mellons collection of 1,700
rare books, manuscripts, maps, and atlases pertaining to Virginia
and American history was divided among Yale University, the Virginia
Historical Society, and the University of Virginia. From this bequest,
the U.Va. Library received 447 items.
Mellon collected the authentic and the original with a passion,"
said co-curator Heather Moore, head of Public Services for Special
Collections. "This exhibit is a wonderful opportunity to view
one of the finest collections of Americana and Virginiana ever amassed
by one individual."
interactive Web site accompanies the exhibition and provides a three-dimensional
view of some of the items. Visitors to the site, located at www.lib.virginia.edu/exhibits/mellon,
can enlarge some of the items to see close-ups of their fine details.
visitors can also watch scrolling scenes on a "Myriopticon"
depicting the Civil War. This computer version of a 19th-century
toy contains a panorama of 22 Civil War scenes mounted on two rollers
that can be turned by a key, causing the panorama to pass across
a viewing hole.
Mellon exhibition is on display in the U.Va. Library
Special Collections Department in the McGregor Room Monday through
Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to
5 p.m. Inquiries are advised for holiday and summer schedules. For
more information, call (804) 924-4966.
Melissa Norris, (804) 924-4254