Don't Rock the Cradle Symposium: Books in Exhibitions—Mounts, Materials, and Economy (2015)

The Folger Shakespeare Library's Werner Gundersheimer Conservation Department organized a three-day symposium from April 1 to April 3, 2015 on books in exhibitions focusing on book cradles and book supports.

See photo gallery from the symposium.

This symposium was offered in collaboration with Hanka Gerhold, paper conservator at the “Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz,” Germany and Michaela Brand, book conservator at the “Stiftung Deutsches Historisches Museum,” Berlin, Germany, following up on their successful symposium on this topic “In die Wiege gelegt” held in Berlin in 2013. As that symposium was offered in German only, this symposium was a unique opportunity to discuss books in exhibitions and their supports.

The symposium discussed the various types of available book cradles and book supports, both generic and custom-made, as well as the wide variety of techniques employed by different institutions to custom-build them.

The main issues discussed in this symposium were:

  • How to safely display an opened book
  • What angle of presentation is the best compromise between exhibition and preservation
  • What types of supports or designs are available to display a book
  • Is the cradle intended to be a purely structural support or is it part of the visual design of the case and exhibition
  • What materials are safe, cost effective, and sustainable

Colleagues were invited to share the designs of their book cradles and supports by sending in a sample which was on view for all participants. The Market Place, a temporary space set up across the street for casual conversations, lunches, breaks, and professional exchanges, contained a wide variety of cradles contributed by Hanka Gerhold, presenters, attendees, and various institutions across the country; these were available for inspection and inspiration for the duration of the symposium.

Please see our full program for a detailed list of presentations and the schedule. Abstracts for each presentation are available for those interested in more information, as are speaker biographies.

Download presentations:

Brenna Campbell, University of Iowa Libraries: Wundercradle: On-site Construction of Custom Exhibit Mounts (PDF)

Mindell Dubansky, The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Experiments in Book Support (PDF)

Maria Fredericks, Morgan Library & Museum: Book Cradles for Exhibition—Access, Aesthetics and Preservation (PDF)

Emily Klayman Jacobson, Freer | Sackler Galleries: Cradles for Bound Japanese Books (PDF)

Shan Linde, National Gallery of Art: When All Else Fails, Go Back to the Basics (PDF)

Nora Lockshin, Smithsonian Institution Archives: Opposites Attract: Magnets in Mounts (PDF)

Nancy Turner, J. Paul Getty Museum: Cradles for Displaying Illuminated Manuscripts: Collection Rotations versus Temporary Loan Exhibitions at the J. Paul Getty Museum (PDF)