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Current Exhibitions

Detail of embroidered French binding: balloon history.

The Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery is closed for the installation of our upcoming exhibition, "Required Reading: Reimagining a Colonial Library."

Currently On View

This Just In! Recent Acquisitions of the Boston Athenæum

May 1 - August 3, 2019
Visit the first-floor Long and Sitting Rooms to see a captivating array of new acquisitions for the library's special collections—including limited-edition artists' books, fine bindings, and Boston ephemera. Highlights include:
  • an 1895 chromolithographed pamphlet die-cut in the shape of a pie advertising “New England” brand mincemeat, providing a window into the day-to-day life of the past;
  • a striking early work from Michael Russem and the late Katherine Russem’s Kat Ran Press, poet Tracey Knapp’s Match in a Bottle (1997), illustrated with unique images by Kurt Gohde, each made with smoke from sources such as matches, kerosene lamps, and lighters;
  • a two-volume Histoire des ballons et des aéronautes célèbres (Paris: Librairie artistique, H. Launette & Cie, 1887-1890) that features extraordinary embroidered bindings by the French bookbinding father-son team known as Marius Michel.
The Sitting Room showcases flora and fauna in the book arts by New Englanders Robert Wu and Rebecca Goodale, social justice artists' books, and cartes de visite remembering the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first Union regiment to recruit African-American soldiers in the North to fight during the Civil War.