Curating at the Lilly: Week Three

Brainstorming for our Six Degrees exhibit continues. As I study the Instauratio Magna (aka Novum Organum (“New Instrument”)) and possible degrees of association, I realize there are so many different directions of connection I can take. Books (and other printed works) can have so much in common with one another, including author, translator, printer, publisher, illustrator, dedicatee, and even provenance (history of ownership). I’ve also been playing with physical commonalities (binding particularly). This week, I received some feedback that I may want to be careful about mixing people connections with physical connections; after all, the whole point of “six degrees” is human networking! Our goal is to inspire curiosity, not confusion, and I do so hope we succeed in this crucial goal!

This week, we also received a more formal introduction to our other major project: assisting a guest curator. He’ll be curating a main gallery exhibit on the Baker Street Irregulars, the first and oldest Sherlockian society in existence. The curator is very familiar with our Baker Street Irregulars mss. (Lilly Manuscript Collection 2936), but there may be interesting and relevant Lilly materials outside this particular collection. For instance, we have separate collections representing founders and prominent members Christopher Morley, Vincent Starrett, Anthony Boucher, and David Randall. In our printed collections, we may have Sherlock Holmes publications that were owned or annotated by BSI members. Our job as interns in the next few weeks will be to survey interesting items outside LMC 2936 so our guest curator can be better aware of his options. He may be the subject expert, but we will be the pros when it comes to navigating and searching for particular items in the Lilly Library!

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