The “Visit Imaginary Places!” exhibit in Linderman Library is open for students and faculty to explore the world — without a passport — through the lens of artifacts and art.
The exhibit was created by Lois Fischer Black, curator of Special Collections, Ilhan Citak, archives and Special Collections librarian and Alex Japha, digital archivist. The exhibit opened on Nov. 6 and was curated to educate the public about utopian and past life before the invention of maps and navigation, according to the exhibit’s website.
The exhibit is inspired by other factors including fantastical worlds that enable viewers to escape reality. The exhibit aims to educate viewers about the Renaissance, Enlightenment and Victorian periods.
Japha said one of his favorite cases in the display is the “Ancient History” case, which includes information about mythology such as Herodotus’ history, Ptolemy’s Maps and “The Odyssey.”
Japha said he chose to focus on ancient history, because “before maps, imaginary places were considered to be very real pre-mythology.”
Japha said Linderman Library is fortunate to own such a broad collection of rare books.
“Over the years, since founding the library in 1878, the book collection has been immensely expanded,” Japha said. “It originally began after Asa Packer gave $500,000 to help build the library, including buying books.”
Another case in the exhibit is “Fairy Tales and Children’s Stories,” which intends to give viewers a chance to escape the current work-oriented world they live in and engage with their imagination.
This case includes books titled “The Wind in the Willows,” “Nonsense Songs” and “The Plays of J.M. Barrie.” “The Wind in the Willows” is a story about a man navigating life through underground tunnels.
Juan Vidal, ‘22, said being an engineering student, he spends multiple hours in the library. One day, he noticed the display. He said his favorite display is the “Adventures” case.
“I loved reading about ‘Treasure Island’ and all of the fantasies that people believed in the past,” Vidal said. “Being able to read this content from my own school library goes to show how many resources there are here at Lehigh. It also shows how much students can learn in addition to just learning from a classroom.”
Ashley Pearce, ‘22, said she, too, came across the exhibit after spending a lot of time in the library. As a student majoring in supply chain management, she said she was pleasantly surprised to learn about the process of supply and demand through the exhibit.
“Throughout my time looking at the exhibit, I didn’t think I would learn as much as I did,” Pearce said. “I learned so much from just looking at the case about geography — where certain things are located and how people acted around certain environments in the early centuries.”
The “Adventures” case features stories about lost worlds and far-away places, such as “King Solomon’s Mines,” which is a quest romance about civilization and treasure. Although each exhibit’s case has a different concept, they all intertwine to allow viewers to escape their current world.
The Linderman Library Special Collections staff puts on an exhibition each semester. Japha said he is looking forward to having their next creation on display this spring and encourages all students to immerse themselves in the displays.