UVa Library Press Releases 2000 - 2001
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA LIBRARY TO EXHIBIT
TREASURED ITEMS FROM THE COLLECTION OF PAUL MELLON
Contact: Heather Moore, head of Public Services in Special Collections at (804) 924-4966 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
See America's history through the eyes of a collector...
Visit the exhibition,
- Discover the New World with Christopher Columbus by reading the printed letter he wrote describing what he found. Published in 1494, this extremely rare edition of the Columbus letter includes four woodcuts by European artists attempting for the first time to depict the New World.
- Hear the alarm in Thomas Jefferson,s voice in his famous "fire-bell in the night" letter. In this letter, written on April 22, 1820 to John Holmes, former senator from Maine, Jefferson expresses his concerns over the Missouri Compromise. He likens the country,s slavery crisis to having "the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go." Five other letters by Jefferson are also on display.
- See the American West as it once was through the hand-colored illustrations of George Catlin and Prince Maximilian of Wied from the mid-1800s.
- Experience first-hand the trial of abolitionist John Brown by reading the hand-written notes of presiding judge Richard Parker, who sentenced John Brown to hang.
In addition to these highlights from the collection, also on display are items relating to exploration and westward expansion, colonial and revolutionary Virginia, and the Civil War. Included are early maps of Virginia and North America, letters written by George Washington and James Madison, items relating to Lewis and Clark's expedition, and hand-colored portraits of Native Americans.
"Mr. Mellon loved his adopted state of Virginia and avidly collected maps, books, and manuscripts concerning the state," said Director of the Albert H. Small Special Collections Library Michael Plunkett and co-curator of the exhibition. "We are thrilled to be able to show some of these Virginiana treasures that have remained in the state thanks to Mr. Mellon's generosity."
Upon his death in February 1999, Paul Mellon's collection of 1,700 rare books, manuscripts, maps, and atlases pertaining to Virginia and American history was divided among Yale, the Virginia Historical Society, and the University of Virginia. From this bequest, the U.Va. Library received 447 items.
"Paul Mellon collected the authentic and the original with a passion," said Co-curator Heather Moore and head of Public Services for Special Collections. "This exhibition is a wonderful opportunity for the public to view one of the finest collections of Americana and Virginiana ever amassed by an individual."
An interactive Web site accompanies the exhibition and provides a three-dimensional view of some of the items. Visitors to the site, located at www.lib.virginia.edu/exhibits/mellon, can enlarge some of the items to see close-up their fine details. For example, when viewing one of the earliest maps of Virginia, it is possible to move and zoom in and out of the image to rotate and change the position of the map. Visitors to the site can also watch scrolling scenes on a Myriopticon depicting the Civil War. This 19th century toy contains a panorama of 22 Civil War scenes mounted on two rollers that can be turned by a key, causing the panorama to pass across a viewing hole.
Visit "Private Passions, Public Legacy: Paul Mellon's Personal Library at the University of Virginia" in the U.Va. Library Special Collections Department in the McGregor Room Monday through Thursday from 9am to 9pm; Friday and Saturday, 9am to 5pm. Inquiries advised for holiday and summer schedules. For more information, call (804) 924-4966.