The Exhibition Room, or, why 'Ex' is the location designator for rare books in the Princeton University Library

| No Comments

When Pyne Library opened in 1897 [more], such rare books as the Morgan Virgils were shelved in a special room fitted with glass-fronted bookcases. The ground-floor room was the New World offspring of the Old World wunderkammer. Its purpose was public exhibition of private treasures. By extension, the Library’s location designator “Ex” (shorthand for “Exhibition Room” [more]) became the designator for the Library’s general rare book collection. It remains so down to today. A brief photo essay about the room follows.

    1916 floor plan keyed with pictures (left to right) NW corner, NE corner, SE corner, and SW alcove (Hutton death mask collection)
1916_flr_plan_keyed-mid.size.jpg
For larger image [ link ]
     
 1905?   
1905_Ex_Rose_photos_at_P_Hist_Soc.jpg
An early photograph; display cases have not yet filled the entire floor as they would do during the 1910s and 1920s. Original at Hist. Soc. of Princeton. Rose glass plate negatives: no. ROS6194.
     
 1905?   
Hutton.alcove.0.jpg
  An early photograph of the Hutton alcove; more masks would be put on display during the 1910s and 1920s.  
For larger image: see http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/pr76f392t
   
 1915?   
Pyne.Ex.E.jpg
  Northeast corner of the Exhibition Room
For larger image, see: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/pk02cb19t
 1915?   
Pyne.Ex.N.jpg
  Northwest corner of the Exhibition Room For larger image, see: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark://88435/bc386j734
     
 1920s   
Pyne.Ex.SE.jpg
  Southeast corner of the Exhibition Room. Visible are hinged panels on stands displaying prints by Rowlandson and Cruikshank. In the case adjacent is the Wordsworth Collection, assembled by Mrs. Cynthia Morgan St. John, and on display in hope that a donor would purchase it for the Library. In 1925, Cornell University acquired the St. John Wordsworth collection.
For larger image, see: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/2n49t216v

 
 1920s   
Hutton.alcove.jpg
  The Hutton Alcove near full build-out; more masks added to the foundation collection.
For larger image, see: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/w0892b62x


 1930s 
Ex.repurposed.jpg
  Exhibition room repurposed to reader space starting in the late 1920s. Rare books and other objects moved into the Treasure Room on the second floor of Pyne.
For larger image, see: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/6t053g57v

Leave a comment