Monthly Highlights

Current Monthly Exhibition

Detail from a Qur’an
Mon, Mar. 02, 2020 to Tue, Mar. 31, 2020

According to Islamic belief, the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed over the course of his lifetime (c. 570 – 632 CE) by Gabriel, the angel of revelation. Islam, the faith that has resulted from these revelations, quickly became one of the most influential and popular religions throughout Asia, Northern Africa, and the Mediterranean. These regions were already centers of book production, and books became an important tool for sharing the word of the Qur’an. Through the fine artistry, careful construction, and spirited literary debates captured within these highlights from the Fisher Library’s collection of Qur’anic materials, these books exemplify the Qur’an’s place at the heart of Muslim study and devotion. 27 Rajab, 1441 AH (March 20, 2020) marks the observance of Laylat al-Mi’raj, the celebration of the Prophet Muhammed’s ascent into Heaven from the Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. In recognition of this important celebration, we encourage you to consider these works and the reverence and engagement they represent.

Display curated by Samantha Summers and installed by Linda Joy.

Previous Monthly Exhibitions

poster for Just Your Type
Tue, Feb. 04, 2020 to Fri, Feb. 28, 2020

Type alone expresses many shades of thought, feeling, and impression, sometimes powerfully, sometimes subtly, always measurably,” observes the International Typographical Union. Since the first printing press was brought to Halifax in 1749, Canada has developed unique print cultures and typographical styles. This display highlights examples of ways printers used, sold, and talked about type in modern Canadian history, and in doing so how the ways in which type was viewed and understood have evolved.

Be sure to check out material from our collection in February's monthly display!

Exhibit curated by Megan E. Fox, installed by Linda Joy.


Political prisoner image
Mon, Jan. 06, 2020 to Fri, Jan. 31, 2020

January 27, 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the largest complex of concentration and extermination camps established and operated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. It is estimated that 1.3 million people or more were deported to Auschwitz between 1940 and 1945; of these, 1.1 million or more were murdered. The inmates included Jews, non-Jewish Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and other Europeans. Those who were not murdered in gas chambers died of starvation, exhaustion, disease, individual executions, beatings, or medical experiments. In mid-January 1945, as Soviet forces approached, thousands of the remaining inmates were killed and the SS began evacuating the camps, forcing nearly 60,000 on death marches. When the Soviet army finally entered Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, over 7,000 remaining inmates were liberated, the majority of whom were severely ill and dying.

To commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day and this significant anniversary, this month’s display highlights visual and artistic materials from the Fisher Library collections that capture Jewish life before the war, the horrors of the war and liberation from the camps.

Display curated by Leora Bromberg and Nadav Sharon and installed by Linda Joy.

A Small and Fine Press Christmas
Mon, Dec. 02, 2019 to Fri, Dec. 20, 2019

The modern fine press traces its origins back to the Arts and Crafts Movement that emerged in England at the end of the nineteenth century. Craftspeople like William Morris (1834-1896) looked backwards in time to early book production in the fifteenth century for inspiration. Such presses placed emphasis on the sympathetic rendering of a given text through attention to the physical properties of the printed work, including the quality of paper, illustration, binding, overall design, typeface and the mode of printing. Production values were high and the size of edition low. Besides the books that they produced marking the festive season, it was also a common practice of these small and fine presses to produce ephemeral keepsakes that came to be treasured in their own right, such as the ones in this display.

Display curated by P.J. Carefoote and installed by Linda Joy.

Cover of Nelvana comic book
Fri, Nov. 01, 2019 to Fri, Nov. 29, 2019

Almost every young person is introduced to the wonders of reading through illustrated works. For many, the marriage of words and images remains an intoxicating and seductive mix, even as one's reading tastes mature. That will often mean graduating to comic books. But comics themselves will often reflect that increasing maturity by providing sophisticated and dense stories with exciting visuals. Stories, in other words, that are not necessarily geared soley toward young readers.

This month's display features an array of visual works from the Fisher's collections: from graphic novelist Chris Ware's format-busting "book" Building Stories, to a visual retelling of The Handmaid's Tale, along with early and important Canadian comics and "wordless" narratives from one of the inventor's of the genre. Lynd Ward, to more recent examples from Canadian artists George A. Walker and Wesley Bates.

This exhibiton was co-curated by Liz Ridolfo and John Shoesmith, and installed by Linda Joy.

Dance of Death image
Tue, Oct. 01, 2019 to Thu, Oct. 31, 2019

This Hallowe' en month we are showcasing books, prints, manuscripts, and ephemeral material about the Dance macabre, an allegorical concept of death deeply rooted in late medieval traditions. Featured in the top case is a woodcut of the Dance of Death by Michael Wolgemut from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493). Other material on display includes engravings by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) from the original designs of Hans Holbein (1497-1543); funeral tickets; and more material about death.


Carry on Canada image
Mon, Sep. 02, 2019 to Mon, Sep. 30, 2019

Eighty years ago, on 10 September 1939, Canada entered the Second World War, one week after Britain had entered the fray. This second great international conflict in as many generations would eventually see some 1.1 million Canadians serve in the ranks of the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as in other forces from across the Commonwealth. In the end, approximately 42,000 would be killed and another 55,000 would be wounded. This exhibition tells some of their story, using many of the unique items from the collections found in the Fisher Rare Book Library.

Exhibition curated by Graham Bradshaw, P.J. Carefoote and Danielle Van Wagner.

Image for Latin poetry display
Tue, Jul. 02, 2019 to Fri, Aug. 16, 2019

The great Latin poems of the Classical past were among the first works of literature to find their way into print, and it was not long before early editions of these works were adorned with woodcut illustrations. The epics of Virgil, Lucan, and Valerius Flaccus, which are rich in mythological and historical detail, lend themselves in particular to illustration, as do the plays of Terence, with their vividly drawn characters and lively plots. The poetry of Horace, which tends to have less of a narrative focus, did not receive quite as much attention from illustrators, though some early editions did include woodcuts. Two of the books featured in this display - the Virgil and the Horace - are new additions to the Fisher Library’s collections.

This display was curated by Timothy Perry, and installed by Linda Joy.

Oscar Wilde image
Mon, Jun. 03, 2019 to Fri, Jun. 28, 2019

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish poet and playwright, famed for his wit, his elegant appearance, and his celebration of decadence. The author of popular plays such as Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), he also wrote a collection of stories for children, The Happy Prince and other Tales (1888), and the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). Themes of male love, friendship, and same-sex desire appear in certain of his publications. Wilde faced libel and criminal trials involving his ‘indecent’ activities in the gay underworld of London, and in 1895 was convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to two years’ hard labour.  His reputation as a ‘homosexual martyr’ and ‘moral rebel’ was quickly embraced by those within the first wave of the gay-rights movement. This display showcases a selection of Wilde’s literary works, essays, and poetry from the De Lury Collection of Anglo-Irish literature.       

Emily Warren's watercolour of her extended family
Wed, May. 01, 2019 to Fri, May. 31, 2019

In the late eighteenth-century, two events coincided to bring about the 'Golden Age of Watercolour' in Britain – William Gilpin published his first travel narrative utilizing watercolour sketches and cakes of watercolour were first sold commercially. The rise of colonial activity by the British Empire in this period meant that travel became a necessary and sought-after activity for the upper classes. Packed along in their steamer trunks were sketchbooks, brushes and watercolours to depict their journeys and experiences.

Display curated by Danielle Van Wagner and installed by Linda Joy.