Arboretum library exhibit sums up 50 years
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media March 14, 2013 11:24AM
Visitors to the Morton Arboretum are invited to check out “Tales and Treasures,” an exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Sterling Morton Library.
‘Tales and Treasures’
♦ Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle
♦ March 15 through 2013
♦ Tickets, free with price of admission
♦ (630) 968-0074
Updated: March 14, 2013 11:24AM
A new exhibit opening March 15 celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Sterling Morton Library at Lisle’s Morton Arboretum.
“Tales and Treasures” is a collection of 50 objects honoring the library’s golden anniversary; from rare books to original artwork to original wood blocks, said Rita Hassert, library collections manager.
“They asked us to select 50 items. If you know the collection, we came up with a much larger list. We have over 5,000 rare books; we have over 12,000 works of art in the collection. We have a lot of resources,” she said. “It was really tricky.”
There will even be interactive components in the exhibit visitors can access.
“I think it’s going to offer a lot of information — and hopefully inspiration — for visitors,” she said.
The Sterling Morton Library, designed by Chicago architect Harry Weese, is located in the Administration and Research Center on the east side of the Arboretum. It opened in October 1963.
Items chosen for “Tales and Treasures” span the centuries: the oldest piece dates back to the late 1400s.
“There are things that also represent the vision and mission of the founders of the Arboretum, so we have things related to trees and other works like that,” she said. “I think this is a wonderful opportunity for people to dive into what we collect.”
Artifacts include a collection of butterflies that is more than 100 years old, an Eskimo bone carving, metal sculptures and documents regarding the founding and creation of the Arboretum by Joy Morton in 1922.
The staff did its best to represent the library’s diversity as well as its long history.
“Information and knowledge is packaged in all different ways,” she said. “One example is, we’re going to have some postcards of the Arboretum from years ago. We also have … a series of original watercolors of mushrooms. What tells the best story? It’s very subjective, selecting things like this. I hope people realize this introduction of 50 elements is just the beginning. We have so much more. The collections are very extensive.”
Interactive components in the exhibit include three different games, said Katie Vanmetre, exhibit developer.
“The first is a large touch screen and on it are scanned versions of three interesting books from the collection. We have them set up so you can actually go in and flip through the pages of these three books,” she said. “And then on the side, there are pictures that visitors are prompted to look for — a little scavenger hunt in the pages of the books.”
Another is a memory game with pairs behind doors, and another is an I-spy activity.
“There will be large, zoomed-in images of some of the objects in the exhibit. For example, one of the images is a super close-up of a butterfly’s wing, and visitors are asked to find it in the exhibit.”
The library plans to do other events throughout the year to celebrate the anniversary as well, Hassert said.
“Tales and Treasures” will be a great introduction for people who have never visited the Morton Arboretum before, she said.
“It gives you the sense of resources and things that we study here,” she said.
She hopes the exhibit teaches people the diversity and richness of the collection.
“I also hope they learn some of the stories related to it — we’re trying to present some of the interesting stories related to it, so I hope that they connect with that,” she said. “Also, I hope it propels them to not only see the exhibit, but come into the library and make use of the resources that we have available. For example, maybe if they read about an interesting botanist in the exhibit, maybe they’ll go and select a biography about him or her from the shelf. I’m hoping it propels them to take action.”
“Tales and Treasures” is open during regular museum hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, through the end of 2013. It is free with Arboretum admission or membership.