The Birds of America; from Original Drawings by John James Audubon (1827-38) is one of two works—along with the Gutenberg Bible—that have long been on permanent view at the Beinecke Library; these extraordinarily beautiful and important books have been exhibited in purpose-built cases on the Beinecke’s mezzanine level since the Library’s opening in 1963.
The case in the northwest corner of the library mezzanine exhibits important early printed works in addition to the Gutenberg Bible, such as the oldest surviving woodblock prints: religious texts from Japan, printed and enclosed in wooden pagodas in the 760s by order of Empress Koken-Shotoku (718–770). More information: Hyakumantō darani 百万塔陀羅尼 call number: YAJ 7b1.
Though the library’s marble-panel “windows” keep the light levels low in our upstairs exhibition area, even small amounts of light can damage books and paper over time. In order to preserve these works for the ages, pages are turned and volumes are changed regularly, limiting light exposure.