JANUARY 17 – JUNE 28, 2024

The exposed spine of a thick medieval book. Everything is beige, and along the spine can be seen the binding as well as words from old pages in medieval script that were used as binding waste.

Conradi Gesneri medici Tigurini Historiæ animalium lib. Conrad Gessner. Tiguri : Apud Christ. Froschoverum, 1551-1587. x-collection [VAULT FOLIO QL41 .G37], Special Collections & Archives, University of Iowa Libraries. Photo: Sara Pinkham.

Making the Book, Past and Present
explores the intersections of history, art, and practicality. What can we learn by placing books, materials, and makers from the Middle Ages through today in conversation with one another? Many techniques and materials common centuries ago still inspire contemporary book artists and bookbinders.  

Curated by Eric Ensley and Emily Martin, this exhibition features a global selection of rare historic books and modern book art. From medieval manuscripts and early modern works to recent book sculptures, pop-ups, and books that move, these Special Collections & Archives materials shown together make a visual feast representing the strong connection between books and makers past and present. 


Virtual Tour

Click here to view the accessible version of this interactive content


Curator Highlights




Exhibition Curation
Eric Ensley
Curator of Rare Books & Maps, University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections & Archives

Emily Martin
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Bookbinding and Book Arts
University of Iowa Center for the Book

Preparation & Conservation
Bill Voss, Conservator Technician & Exhibit Preparator
Giselle Simón, University Conservator

Kalmia Strong, Creative Coordinator

Exhibition Coordination
Sara J. Pinkham, Exhibition and Engagement Coordinator

Bill Voss, Sara J. Pinkham, Giselle Simón, Jennifer Miller, Kalmia Strong

Ken Clinkenbeard, Web Services Specialist
Sara J. Pinkham

Virtual Exhibit Assembly & Photography
Sara J. Pinkham

Financial Support
Friends of the University of Iowa Libraries

Special Thanks
Tim Barrett, Anne Bassett, Madison Bennett, Nicholas Cladis, Rich Dana, Camille Davis, Natalee Dawson, Margaret Gamm, Cheryl Jacobsen, Lindsay Moen, Paul Soderdahl, Kaylee Swinford, Katarina Stiller, Zöe Webb, Students and Faculty of the University of Iowa Center for the Book