Exhibiting the written word

Are there challenges or difficulties unique to the task of exhibiting books and manuscripts? What kinds of pressures and demands do librarians and curators face? How do policies and frameworks aimed at connecting archives, libraries and museums with the communities around them shape our approach to staging such exhibitions?

The report 'Exhibiting the written word' (PDF) (3.2 MB; 32 pages) outlines the issues and challenges involved in exhibiting books and manuscripts:

  • The question of displaying text, as opposed to exhibitions based on other kinds of objects
  • The display and interpretation of different kinds of texts
  • The library as opposed to the gallery as a site for exhibitions
  • Collaborative exhibitions — working with communities and people from other sectors; the drivers and stakeholders that influence the process
  • Evaluating exhibitions.

This report was produced with the support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council by the Making Our Connections project team: James Loxley (University of Edinburgh), Helen Vincent (Senior Curator of Rare Books, National Library of Scotland), Joseph Marshall (Rare Book Librarian at the University of Edinburgh) and Lisa Otty (Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh). It is based on a workshop held in June 2011 which brought together academics, librarians and curators including Rare Books in Scotland members.

To obtain a hard copy or large print version of the report, contact Helen Vincent (h.vincent@nls.uk).

Supported by

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This project has been generously supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.


Rare Books in Scotland workshops