Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Exhibit: Adornment & Alliance

Some of the finest treasures housed in Special Collections are featured in a new exhibit in the Connelly Library, "Adornment & Alliance: Preserving Illustrated and Historic Bibles and Curating a Digital Collection Through Constructive Partnership." The purpose of this exhibit is to honor the mission of the Collection by highlighting its significant holdings, which not only contain beautiful and inspirational imagery, but which also feature some of the most notable Bibles in the world.

The exhibit aims to highlight our partnership with Villanova University’s Digital Library, and to announce that, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the 1611 King James Version, the Collection's first edition "Great He Bible,” printed in 1611, is now online.

The original purpose of the Collection, as curated by Brother Daniel Burke in the University Art Museum, was to document the history of early Bible illustration, with special emphasis on sixteenth century woodcut Bibles. Over time the Collection broadened in scope and became particularly strong in representing the history of the English translation of the Bible. The mission of the Collection aims to reflect both the historical importance and beauty of the Holy Bible. The Susan Dunleavy Collection was transferred from the Art Museum to the Department of Special Collections in 2006.

Among the items showcased in this exhibit are a Latin Vulgate Bible from 1525 and a “Low German” edition of the Luther Bible printed in 1533-34. Among the early English translations of the Holy Bible, we are exhibiting our 1552 edition of William Tyndale's New Testament, a 1560 Geneva Bible, Wycliffe's New Testament as printed by John March in London in 1731, and images of our prized 1535 edition of the Coverdale Bible.

We selected these volumes because of their role in the history of the translation of the Bible into English, leading up to the 1611 Authorized King James Version. In a meeting at Hampton Court in 1604, King James I called for a revision of Bishop’s Bible, which was produced under reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1568. Forty-seven scholars, organized into six companies, began the task of translation in 1607. In order to revise the Bishop’s Bible, the groups studied other early English translations such as the Tyndale, Coverdale, Geneva, and Rheims, and older Bibles in Greek and Latin.

With these volumes we've also placed many other beautiful and rare items from the Susan Dunleavy Collection, including a selection of modern and unusual printings, and images of the 1509 printing of the Quincuplex Psalterium, which once belonged to the Catholic martyr St. John Fisher (1459-1535). (Pictured at left.)

In addition to highlighting our partnership with Villanova, and showcasing some of our favorite items from the collection, we also venture to highlight the preservation needs of this collection, by educating our visitors on the environmental controls and monitors that we employ throughout the exhibit.

This exhibit will remain on view in the main lobby of the Connelly Library throughout the fall semester.

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