The exhibition showcases notebooks in NYU Libraries’ Special Collections, illuminating how blank books have for centuries served as powerful devices for storing and managing information, and as windows into different worlds and psyches
The NYU Division of Libraries presents Portable Devices, 1574-1998: Notebooks from NYU Special Collections—an exhibition showcasing historical notebooks now on view through June 21 in the Second Floor Special Collections Gallery at NYU’s Elmer Holmes Bobst Library. The exhibition is open to external visitors by appointment only.
Portable Devices features different examples of notebooks, ranging from the limp vellum bound recipe book of a seventeenth-century English housewife to the pink notebook of a twentieth-century American diplomat for the antiwar movement, to shed light on the notebook’s role as a tool for organizing and storing information critical to the running of worlds—personal, domestic, social, educational, political, or institutional.
“The notebook is a fascinating object, not only because of the role it can play in illuminating emotions, plans, desires, and creative practices, but also because of the object values of the pieces themselves,”said Nicholas Martin, Curator for the Arts & Humanities, NYU Special Collections.
The exhibition is based on NYU Special Collections Dean’s Fellow Julie Park’s current book project Writing’s Maker, which examines the materiality of self-inscription formats (commonplace books, pocket diaries, extra-illustrated books and penmanship copy books) as channels of thinking, creating, and record making for writers of the eighteenth century and today.
Associated programming includes a Bullet Journaling 101 Workshop on Wednesday, April 20 at 4 p.m.; a presentation and conversation with Martha Wilson on Tuesday, April 26; a lecture with Julie Park on Life Writing as Line-Making in the 18th-Century Commonplace Book on Wednesday, April 27 at 2 p.m.; and a lecture with Elaine Ayers, historian of science and faculty member in Museum Studies at NYU, on Botanical Records and Scientific Colonialism on Tuesday, May 3 at 2 p.m. Register free via Eventbrite.
Pieces written by the curators further exploring the exhibition’s themes and ideas will roll out through April and May on the Special Collections’ Back Table Blog.
Portable Devices, 1574-1998: Notebooks from NYU Special Collections is on display in the Special Collections Gallery at Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South (at LaGuardia Place) from April 18, 2019. [Subways A,C,E, B,D,M to West 4th Street; 6 line to Astor Place; R,W train to 8th Street.]. The exhibition is free and open to the public by appointment only.