Saturday, September 21, 2019

Museums and Books: A Colonial Library at the Boston Athenæum

If you are a Bostonian or close to the Boston area, this is an exhibition to put on your "to visit" list, Required Reading:  Reimagining a Colonial Library, September 17-March 20, 2020.

Promotional Image for the exhibition

The Boston Athenæum is a private library holding not only books but also objects from paintings to sculpture and is a cultural landmark in Boston.  Located by the Statehouse and the Beacon Hill neighborhood, the museum is expanding and is sure to remain healthy as a private research library and arts collection.

The focus of this exhibition is the transport and makeup of a library shipped from England in 1698 intended to support the Kings Chapel Anglican Church.  The 221 titles included in this essential collection to seed the library range from religion to science to philosophy and was packaged in a special traveling case that has been recreated for the exhibition.

Building the travelling bookcase.  Note the design similarity to the promotional image above

The companion catalog of books transported to Kings Chapel

The list of titles represents what a library should posses in lat seventeenth century and sets up a wonderful technology feature where visitors to the exhibition are invited to consider what such a book set would include today, 300 years later.  Visitors will be able to add there choice of titles to a database.  When I visit I know what I will suggest, Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, the Cambridge University Press edition (The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant) Edited by Paul Guyer and Allen w. Wood, translated by Alan Wood and published in 1999.

Image result for Critique of Pure Reason Kant, Immanuel Guyer, Paul Wood, Allen W.

This is a book which is often considered the starting guide to modern philosophy and is and essential holding for any every library.  My alternative would be Einstein's Special and General Theory of Gravity. ideally a facsimile of the original English Edition of the work which continues to be the cornerstone of our understanding of the physical laws regulating our universe.  I have this edition in my library, Albert Einstein, Einstein's 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity: A Facsimile, New York, George Braziller Inc., 2000Feel free to suggest a book you would include, in a comment, and I will compare my list to the Boston Athenæum, once the exhibition closes and the list is published!

Einstein's 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity
Cover of Facsimile-Hardcover edition

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