Arts / Faith and Humanities

Special Appearance

Written by Mike Thee

October 22, 2013

Lemieux Library and Plaza at dusk

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A book in the Lemieux Library's Special Collections has left the building-temporarily, that is. 

A book in the Lemieux Library's Special Collections has left the building--temporarily, that is.

The book, Jules Verne's Voyages et aventures du Capitaine Hatteras. Les Anglias au pole nord; Le Desert de glace, will be featured in "Vanishing Ice," an exhibition to be shown in three cities, beginning Nov. 3 at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Wash. (The exhibit will also be shown in El Paso, Tex., and Kleinburg, Ont.)

The Whatcom Museum's curator first approached University Librarian John Popko more than two years ago. Of particular interest was the 1867 book's polar illustrations by Edouard Riou. It is rare for materials in SU's Special Collections to see the light of day, but Popko agreed, seeing the opportunity to contribute to an important endeavor.

"Vanishing Ice," which pulls together the works of internationally renowned artists and spans more than 250 years, is a tribute to the beauty and cultural importance of glaciers, icebergs and ice fields. But perhaps most important, it explores one of the most challenging issues of our time-climate change and its impact on the majestic landscapes that are celebrated in the exhibition.

"I'm very pleased that the museum curator identified this illustrated volume housed in our Special Collections and that she gave us the opportunity to be a part of the Whatcom Museum's exhibition," said Popko.  "We're delighted to be included in such high-profile company-artists, museums, and other libraries-that are also loaning works to such a thoughtful, comprehensive, and timely exhibition. What was originally intended to be a four-month loan has grown into a 15-month loan when the entire exhibition travels to the El Paso Museum of Art and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection after it leaves Whatcom."

Popko added that the loan is somewhat unusual for the university. "We have loaned books to other exhibitions and we loaned a Paul Horiuchi collage to a special show of the Seattle Asian Art Museum a number of years ago, but by the conclusion of the travelling Vanishing Ice exhibition, this volume of Verne and Riou will be our most travelled exhibition item. Despite its long absence, we still have a wealth of primary materials and rare books in the collection that can support or supplement student and faculty research or special projects."

Voyages et aventures du Capitaine Hatteras (or The Adventures of Captain Hatteras, its English translation) is one of the many gems in SU's Special Collections, said Associate Librarian Mary Sepulveda. Among other materials, the collection contains a growing book-arts collection; approximately 120  rare and valuable books written about Mary, Queen of Scots, or owned by the queen's family; 134 items on science, evolution and ethics by and about Charles Darwin, including original editions of The Origin of Species and The Voyage of the Beagle; and a 500-volume collection that records the life of Napoleon, his campaigns and achievements, with its most notable item, the Revolution Francais Moniteur newspaper, dating from 1801-1802.  

Special Collections materials are shelved among the three Library Reading Rooms  located on the 6th floor while some fragile, unique items receive special preservation treatment in the library's new climate-controlled facility. All faculty, students and staff are welcome make an appointment to access items in Special Collections, said Sepulveda. Faculty members share their interest in and support of Library Special Collections by bringing  students from selected classes in fine arts, history and modern languages for exciting, hands-on experiences with primary and secondary source materials.  

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