Exhibitions & Programs


Current Exhibitions

Pride of Lions

Pride of Lions
Fifty Years of LGBT Activism at Columbia
Created by Barnard and Columbia students

Now through July 31, 2017
Chang Octagon Exhibition Room

"Pride of Lions," curated by Sarah Witte, Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Librarian, is an exhibition devoted to exploring the history of LGBTQ activism at Columbia University.


Harper & Brothers to HarperCollins Publishers

Harper & Brothers to HarperCollins Publishers:
A Bicentennial Exhibition

January 24 to July 21, 2017
Kempner Gallery, Rare Book & Manuscript Library

The company that is now HarperCollins began as a small family business in 1817, publishing first as J. & J. Harper and as Harper & Brothers beginning in 1833. The company survived several fires and financial crises to become one of the biggest and most successful publishing companies in the United States by the middle of the nineteenth century. Today HarperCollins Publishers is considered one of the five most influential English-language publishers in the world.

The exhibitions on display in the Alan and Margaret Kempner Exhibition Gallery and the Chang Octagon Room are free, handicapped accessible, and open to the general public. Exhibit hours are the same as the RBML service hours.

Exhibits are located in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Butler Library, 6th Floor, East. You must have photo ID to enter the building. Please see Directions for more information.


Online Exhibitions

Sydney Howard Gay's "Record of Fugitives"

Sydney Howard Gay's "Record of Fugitives"
In 1855 and 1856, Sydney Howard Gay, a key operative in the underground railroad in New York City, decided for unknown reasons to meticulously record the arrival of fugitive slaves at his office.  The resulting two volumes are a treasure trove of information about how and why slaves escaped, who assisted them, and where they were sent from New York. This website explores this important artifact in detail, displaying the journals in their entirety, and offering additional annotations and analytical commentary by Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University.

Early Modern Futures

Early Modern Futures
This exhibition accompanies the Early Modern Futures conference held on April 24, 2015 as well as a physical exhibition in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Early Modern Futures seeks to spark a conversation about the many ways in which early modern literature practices prospective historical thinking. It asks how beliefs about future events (from the eschatological to the economic to the genealogical) shaped peoples actions in the present; how early modernity analogized historical and prospective thinking; and how various textual and literary forms--whether records, scripts, manuals, genres, or editions--sought to represent the future and even anticipate their own reception.

Complete list of RBML Online Exhibitions.

Public Programs

Book History Colloquium

The RBML offers a robust and diverse series of public programs, including lectures, panel discussions, performances and conferences, that highlight collections and particular fields of inquiry. Guests may include living creators (artists, writers, etc.), collectors, and scholars who make use of our collections. The Book History Colloquium aims to provide a broad outlet for the scholarly discussion of book history, print culture, the book arts, and bibliographical research, and (ideally) the promotion of research and publication in these fields. Please note that while our events are free and open to the public they do require registration in advance. For information about upcoming programs and how to register for them, please see our Events Calendar.


Pine Tree Scholars

Pine Tree Scholars

The Columbia/Barnard Pine Tree Scholars program introduces Columbia and Barnard graduate and undergraduate students to the crafts associated with fine book production, such as typography, letterpress printing, bookbinding, and papermaking, as well as to the rare and art book trades. Most of these sessions include a hands-on component but no prior experience is necessary.  All sessions will take place on Friday afternoons.


Graduate Student Internship

Graduate Student Internship

The Columbia University Libraries’ Graduate Student Internship Program in Primary Sources is designed to enrich graduate studies and professional training in primary sources through an introduction to archival work, supplemented with an orientation program, networking opportunities, discussions, and tours.