Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn.-An exhibition, Book Marks: The Trail Readers Leave Behind, showcases a selection from the extensive rare book collection of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minn.
The opening reception for this exhibition is from 3:30-5 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library Round Table. The books in this exhibit all bear the marks left by previous generations of readers who wrote them, marked them, damaged the covers or warped the bindings. Fortunately for us, some of our ancestors did, revealing a portal to the thoughts and ideas of past readers. Han Holbein the Younger of Basel, Switzerland, drew marginal pen sketches much in the manner of medieval manuscript illustration, to produce a one of a kind keepsake for his good friend, Desiderius Erasmus. Although Erasmus commissioned Holbein to illustrate the new edition of his bestselling book The Praise of Folly written in 1511, this facsimile from our HMML collection shows viewers one of the very rare self-illustrated printed books Holbein gave only to close friends or relatives. F. Cojetan referred so frequently to the tiny pocket volume of Thomas a Kempis' De imitatione christi (The Imitation of Christ) written around the 1700s, that the book took the shape of his hand. The contents of this handbook encouraged the reader to cultivate interior spirituality with Christ as the model. These and other books under glass have a story to tell and Theresa Vann, curator of Malta studies and professor of Medieval History is the storyteller. Book Marks: The Trail Readers Leave Behind is a co-creation of Vann and Jill Dubbeldee Kuhn, public programming and exhibition associate, who joined the HMML staff in November. Vann invites viewers to experience the books for themselves. "Book Marks is for people who love old books, and who wonder about the people who read them" Vann said. "The exhibit takes you by the hand and leads you into that world. We show you how each old book is an artifact that teaches about its past owners. We explain how scholars deduce a book's history by examining its condition. We put each book within its historical or cultural context. What I love best about the exhibit though, is that the books were not selected for their beauty or their value (although some of them are both); they were selected because they speak eloquently about the thoughts and concerns of human beings we otherwise know nothing about." Book Marks and other evidence of the presence of readers is on display including current folios of The Saint John's Bible showing marginalia and insight about the human interaction with its creation. Wine, cheese and chocolate will be served at the opening reception, and an opportunity to make your own mark (any type welcomed) in our guestbook. This book will become a part of HMML's collection documenting this exhibition and our own thoughts or signatures in the year 2009 for our processors. Complimentary Book Marks book marks will also be available at this event. The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library is open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests are always welcome to view the exhibition at their leisure and visit the gift shop offering a wide array of cards, books, prints and other gift items. There is no entrance fee. Interpretative tours and presentations are available for groups wishing to book in advance. Information and booking requests maybe directed to Jill Dubbeldee Kuhn by calling 320 363-2355 or by email at
. For more information about The Saint John's Bible visit www.saintjohnsbible.org. Book Marks shares the gallery with a display of six folios from The Saint's John's Bible, a contemporary work commissioned by the Saint John's Abbey and University and created in the tradition of hand written medieval manuscripts. Donald Jackson, the scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Crown Office of the House of Lords, is the artist director. The Saint John's Bible, consisting of 1,150 pages, 160 pieces of art and a final estimated weight of 300 pounds, will be completed in seven volumes in 2010. The Book of Revelations, volume seven, is to be completed entirely by Jackson. In addition to Jackson, four scribes have created approximately 95 percent of the text needed for this project.