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Exhibit Space

Located on the third floor of Kenneth Spencer Research Library, the Exhibit Space features revolving exhibitions that highlight library collections through the exploration of different themes. It is open to visitors whenever the building is open; visit the library hours page for more information.

Current Exhibition

Histories of the English Language
June through August 2017

From the Old English of Beowulf to the Middle English of Chaucer to the many dialects that make up our modern tongue, the history of English is a history of change. Featuring materials from KU’s Kenneth Spencer Research Library, this exhibition explores English as embodied in the writings of its practitioners, whether celebrated authors, such as John Milton and Toni Morrison, or scholars, lexicographers, and  grammarians, such as Elizabeth Elstob, Samuel Johnson, Robert Lowth, and Noah Webster, or anonymous and little-known writers of “everyday” English. In manuscripts and books dating from 1000 CE to the present, visitors will encounter the varied forces at work growing, standardizing, governing, describing, reforming, and reinventing English.

Exhibition highlights include:

  • Two old English leaves glossed by the Tremulous Hand of Worcester and a third containing perhaps the sole surviving instance of an Old English word
  • A Registrum Brevium, comprising a register of legal writs in Latin, and supplemented by material in Law French and Middle English, a reflection of the multi-lingual culture of late medieval Britain
  • Dictionaries, from Edward Phillip’s The New World of Words, to Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language, to John Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms
  • Examples of English in its many varieties: from treatises defending London English, to words lists for Kansas dialect, to the World English of the Ontisha Market Literature of Nigeria
  • Attempts to govern the language, from discussions of singular 'they' to a copy of the Fonetic Advocat, a 19th- century spelling reform periodical, once owned and annotated by George Bernard Shaw
  • Audio clips of Old English and Middle English being read aloud by scholars of those languages

Upcoming Exhibitions

World War I
Fall 2017

University of Kansas Athletics
Spring 2018

Recent Exhibitions

Education: The Mightiest Weapon
February through May 2017

In the Shadow of Cortés: From Veracruz to Mexico City
A traveling exhibit from Indiana University Bloomington with supplemental materials from Spencer Research Library
September through December 2016

Easter 1916: Rebellion and Memory in Ireland
February through July 2016

Past Exhibitions

Achievement of a Dream: The Birth of the University of Kansas
September through December 2015

All Creeping Things: A History of Herpetological Illustration
An exhibit by graduate students in KU's Museum Studies program
May through August 2015

Free Speech in America: The Wilcox Collection at 50
February 6 through April 18, 2015

Ornithological Illustration in the Age of Darwin: The Making of John Gould's Bird Books
September through November 2014

Legacy of the White City: Revisiting the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893
An exhibit by graduate students in KU's Museum Studies program
May through August 2014

The Magic of Oz: A Collection Celebrating a Classic
Materials from the collection of KU alumna and lifelong Oz collector Jane Albright
January through April 2014

Plainly Spoken
A traveling exhibit sponsored by the Midwest Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers
November 2013 through January 2014

Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence: Stories of Loss, Destruction and Survival
August through October 2013

River City Rebels: Beat Poetry in Lawrence
An exhibit by graduate students in KU's Museum Studies program
May through July 2013

100 Years of Jayhawks: 1912-2012
December 2012 through March 2013

Riddle Me This: A History of Games and Puzzles
An exhibit by graduate students in KU's Museum Studies program
May through August 2012

Discover Kenneth Spencer Research Library
November 2011 through April 2012

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