Ground Floor Gallery Exhibition
 Prev Event Ground Floor Gallery Exhibition Next Event 

"Poet of the Body": New York's Walt Whitman
May 15 - July 27, 2019

How did a carpenter’s son, grammar school dropout and sometime hack writer become America’s greatest poet? To commemorate Whitman’s 200th birthday, this landmark exhibition showcases New York’s role in the extraordinary transformation of Walter Whitman Jr. to “Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son.” Whitman is now universally acclaimed as the "Good Gray Poet" and for his Civil War writings, though less is known of his early years. The exhibition presents the story of his coming of age as a poet through a unique assemblage of rare books, manuscripts, and artifacts—many never before on public display.

Highlights include every American edition of Leaves of Grass published during Whitman's life, the longest Whitman manuscript in private hands, photographs and artifacts from the collections of the descendants of Whitman’s printer Tom Rome and patron John Johnston, Whitman's pen, cane, and locks of his hair encased in exquisite Victorian rings.

For a sneak peak of some of the exhibition’s treasures, visit:

Curated by collector Susan Jaffe Tane and Whitman scholar Karen Karbiener, the exhibition is accompanied by a book, Poet of the Body: New York’s Walt Whitman (Grolier Club, 2019), with a preface by Ms. Tane and text by Dr. Karbiener. A commemorative bronze medallion honoring Whitman’s 200th birthday has been specially commissioned from sculptor Marc Mellon as part of the exhibition. Medallion and book are available for purchase at the Grolier Club; book also available at


Free guided tours of the exhibition, led by co-curator Karen Karbiener, will be held on:
Wednesday, May 15, 12:00 - 1:00 pm
Wednesday, May 22, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Thursday, May 30, 6:30 - 7:30 pm
Thursday, June 20, 4:30 - 5:30 pm
Monday, July 1, 5:30 - 6:30 pm. WorldPride New York 2019 curatorial tour
Tuesday, July 23, 5:30 - 6:30 pm
Wednesday, July 24, 4:00 - 5:00 pm. Introduction to Walt Whitman for children (8-12 years of age)
Curator Karen Karbiener will lead a tour of the exhibition for children and their caretakers, with readings from her book, Poetry for Kids: Walt Whitman (Quarto).
No reservations required.

Wednesday, May 22, 12:00 - 1:00 pm
“Printing Walt Whitman’s Faces,” presentation by letterpress artist and master printer Barbara Henry (Harsimus Press). No charge; no reservations required; open to all.
Thursday, May 30, 5:30 - 6:30 pm
“ ‘This is the city, and I am one of the citizens’: Walt Whitman, The Body, and the City,” presentation by Whitman scholar Ed Folsom (University of Iowa). No charge; no reservations required; open to all.
Tuesday, June 18, 12:00 - 1:00 pm
“I Sing the Exhibition Digital,” presentation by Dr. Jesse Merandy and the Bard Graduate Center’s Digital Media Lab (designers of the exhibition’s digital components). No charge; no reservations required; open to all.
Thursday, June 20, 5:30 - 6:30 pm
“A Year in the Basement with Walt Whitman,” presentation by illustrator Allen Crawford (Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself). No charge; no reservations required; open to all.

Saturday, June 1, from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
All-day Whitman Symposium featuring presentations by Whitman scholars Betsy Erkkila and Kenneth Price, two panel discussions, a PechaKucha session, and a performance of Whitman song settings by the Dessoff Choirs (see Admission is free, but reservations are required by e-mailing

Ground Floor Gallery Exhibition
Thursday, June 20, 2019
"'Poet of the Body': New York's Walt Whitman". The exhibition runs through July 27, 2019.
Site Scripts
Hide Click to Edits:
FED Scripts
CWS & Content Load