• Ground Floor Gallery
    • Five Hundred Years of Women’s Work: The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection
      December 11, 2019 - February 8, 2020

      The phrase “women’s work” usually conjures up domestic duties or occupations associated mainly with women (teaching, nursing, housekeeping), but Lisa Unger Baskin’s collection upends those assumptions by revealing that Western women have long pursued a startling range of careers and vocations. By bringing together materials from across the centuries, Ms. Baskin shows that through their work women have supported themselves, their families, and the causes in which they believed.

      In 2015, Grolier member Lisa Baskin placed her collection with Duke University’s Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture in the Rubenstein Library. Comprising more than 10,000 rare books and thousands of manuscripts, journals, ephemera, and artifacts, it was the most significant collection on women’s history still in private hands.  The exhibition provides a first glimpse into the diversity and depth of the collection, uncovering the lives of women both famous and forgotten and recognizing their accomplishments. It has been co-curated by Naomi L. Nelson, Lauren Reno, and Lisa Unger Baskin.

      “I began forming my women’s collection at a time when there was little interest in the historical record of the achievements of women. My politics informed my collecting. In the 1960s I was involved in the ongoing struggle for civil rights and an end to the war in Vietnam. My response to the women’s movement, alongside my activism, was to collect and document the history that was hidden, not taught, and little written about. I had begun prying out evidence that women were working—indeed, had always been working—but the tracks marking their achievements were largely erased or obscured,” states Ms. Baskin.

      Furthermore, “Over time my vision expanded, as did the parameters of my collection. My activism continued to inform my collecting. I sought particularly to document the lives of women of color.  My interests led me to the political poetry of Phillis Wheatley, to African American women’s settlement houses in Cleveland, to Ida B. Wells’ self-published anti-lynching pamphlets, and to Lizelia Augusta Jenkins Moorer’s writings on prejudice and Jim Crow.  Printing and bookselling, as well as women’s relationships to books, became vital interests. I sought books printed and sold by women, from incunables on.”

      Lisa Unger Baskin’s words and passion resonate in the exhibition and the fully illustrated catalogue. Of special note, Women’s Work also extends to the contributions made by women to the catalogue: the essays, typefaces, and the design and production of the catalogue are all the work of women.    

      Open Set: Design Binding Today
      February 19 - April 25, 2020

      A Design Binding is a uniquely-conceived and beautifully-executed book covering, a work of art that evokes the content of the book through the passion, design sense, and skill of the binder. Through the techniques and structures that go into each individual artwork, the bookbinders share their excitement in the pages of the books they transform. The books in this exhibition are by the winners of the 2020 contemporary designer binding competition. They are drawn from the work of binders from across the globe and all have been created within the past year.

      The title OPEN SET reflects the two categories in which binders may compete—an OPEN category, in which the artist chooses which book to bind, and a SET category, in which all participants bind the same book. Binders are allowed to produce bindings for one or both categories. For the 2020 competition, the set book was conceived and printed by fine press printer Russell Maret. He selected the text of a letter by William Blake entitled Happy Abstract. The Open category books will be chosen by the artists themselves who decide what they will bind; but the judges expect to see a tremendous variety in both size (from miniatures to folios), and in subject.

      The design bindings on display were juried by renowned American binders Mark Esser, Patricia Owen and Monique Lallier; and examples of the set book bound by each juror will also be part of the display.

      A book’s cover is, in essence, an invitation to explore its content. "Open Set demonstrates the ways in which a design binder’s invitation can be recognizable or abstracted, visually unsettling or charming, in artistic terms calculated to spark conversation, comment, and curiosity,” observes Lang Ingalls, exhibition coordinator.

      The Best Read Army in the World (Armed Services Editions)
      May 13 – August 1, 2020

      This is the story of how American librarians and publishers used books to fight against Nazi Germany’s destruction of ideas during World War II.

      Following their book successes during WWI, American librarians united in 1942-43 to host the largest book drive in history. The Victory Book Campaign collected 18 million books for Americans in the armed services. From the Roosevelts to boy and girl scouts, everyone did their part to ensure good books were available to troops to fill their leisure time while training.

      But as millions of Americans shipped out overseas, foot soldiers clamored for books that were lightweight and tiny. American publishers rose to the challenge, inventing the most unique mass-produced books in history, the “Armed Services Editions.” Measuring as little as 3 and 3/8 inches by 5.5 inches, these books fit the pockets of a military uniform. From the beaches of Normandy to the Pacific Islands, American troops read these books until they fell apart. Each month, a fresh shipment of dozens of titles arrived. After years of reading while at war, veterans returned home with an appetite for reading and learning. Millions went back to school under the GI Bill, and the paperback book industry exploded after the war.

      Through posters, photographs, documents, and the books themselves, “visitors will be treated to a unique and inspiring exhibit showcasing how books were the ultimate weapon in the ‘war of ideas,’” comment co-curators Molly Manning and Brian Anderson.
  • Second Floor Gallery
    • Art in the Letter and Other Scrawls
      January 9 - February 29, 2020 

      Considered as both a letter with art and an artwork with text, each letter in Claudia Strauss-Schulson’s illustrated letter collection conveys meaning more effectively than words alone. The collection ranges from letters with sketches to casual drawings to doodles rendered on meeting agendas, envelopes, scraps of paper, napkins, hotel, ship and personal stationery, penned (in some cases penciled) by cultural luminaries mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries.

      They Also Wrote Children’s Books
      March 4 - May 2, 2020

      John Blaney has been collecting modern first editions for over 40 years by such well-known authors as Maya Angelou, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Ken Kesey, Toni Morrison, William Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, and Virginia Woolf. However, it may not be known, or even expected, that they also wrote at least one children's book, some excellent, some not so good. This presentation juxtaposes each children’s book with a famous adult novel to help make the point.

      Hemingway's book The Good Lion is a perfect example of a book that might not be appreciated or even understood by a child. It seems the lion is very unhappy living in Africa—the other lions mock him because he refuses to eat the Hindu traders that pass through his village! He is also teased because he has a pair of wings and so he decides to fly away to Italy. Where? To Venice where he goes to Harry's Bar and orders a very dry martini with Gordon's gin, of course, from Mr. Cipriani. And every child knows that the city symbol of Venice is a winged lion!

      New Members Collect
      May 27- July 25, 2020

      Selections from the collections of individuals elected to Grolier Club membership within the past year.

For more details regarding any of these upcoming exhibitions, including related publications, special tours, and public events. Contact:

Susan Flamm 
PR Consultant

Jennifer Sheehan
Exhibitions and Communications Manager

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