Originally, collectors cabinets were rooms full of various works of art, natural history objects, and antiquities first organized during the Italian Renaissance. Ole Worm, a Danish physician and professor at the University of Copenhagen, assembled the one shown here during the early 1600s. Some cabinets demonstrated the power and wealth of the owner, challenging the viewer to think about the connections among what might today seem to be randomly-arranged objects. Cabinets became a popular way to display objects from travels or items of personal interest. Collectors evolved into curators, classifying and interpreting the wide-ranging collections. In the same fashion, the series of cabinets or rooms of objects were the genesis of today’s museums. This exhibition reflects the legacy of collectors, donors, and curators who had an affinity for or relationship with the University of Delaware.
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), the expatriate American artist, had a formidable presence. He was known for his consummate skill as a painter and printmaker, for his radical art theories, for his wit—and for his combative persona that repeatedly led his friendships to devolve into feuds. Whistler’s forceful personality was at odds with the delicacy of his art. His iconic signature of a graceful butterfly with a barbed stinger embodies this contradiction.
This exhibition presents a small group of books from the poetry library of the American poet X. J. Kennedy. Born Joseph Charles Kennedy, in 1929 in Dover, New Jersey, as he began to gain recognition as an author, Kennedy made the decision to write under the name X.J. Kennedy to avoid confusion with Joseph Kennedy, U.S. Ambassador to England and patriarch of the Kennedy political clan. X. J. Kennedy has written more than twenty published poetry collections. Kennedy is also a prolific author of children’s books, and has edited or co-edited some of the most important twentieth century literary anthologies and textbooks.
Postcards have long been a part of American material culture, yet they did not always look like they do now. Distinguished as cards intended for mailing without an envelope, their history extends back to the mid-nineteenth century. This exhibition charts the history of postcards from Delaware from 1898 through 2009. Drawn from the Library’s Delaware Postcard Collection, these objects of local ephemera demonstrate not only how postcards changed over time but also how different Delaware locales developed throughout the last century.
Trail to the Voting Booth: An Exploration of Political Ephemera shows the variety of ways Americans talk about politics and the way these discussion manifest in physical objects, including pamphlets, song sheets, cartoons, buttons, campaign signs, bumper stickers, costume jewelry, housewares, clothing, toys and more. In the moment, they allow people to proudly display their support for causes and candidates, and later serve as a memory of elections past.