Houghton Library

Harvard Course Exhibition Guidelines


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Checklist for Harvard Course Exhibitions

Faculty and students are encouraged to create physical and digital exhibitions with Houghton Library materials as part of their coursework. Exhibitions involve a good deal of cooperative engagement, so we’ve created this checklist to help facilitate the process. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask Peter Accardo.

These guidelines are for course exhibitions only. Institutions interested in requesting a loan of Houghton materials for exhibition purposes should consult Houghton’s Guidelines for Exhibition Loan Requests.

    Before the semester begins

  1. ____ Please check with the Exhibition Coordinator, Peter Accardo, to see when we can accommodate your class. With limited space and staff, we will need to get you on our schedule early! Please send along a copy of the course description and syllabus when you write.

  2. ____ Locate and reserve a library/museum venue for the exhibition and check with that venue’s Registrar about hosting requirements. For venue criteria, see Appropriate Venue section below.

  3. ____ Determine an exhibition opening date either very late in the semester, or sometime after the end of classes. (Please note that Houghton material can displayed for up to three months.) Exhibition Dates: ______________________________________

  4. ____ Arrange for a departmental 33-digit billing code to cover any image digitization expenses.

  5. Early in the Semester

  6. _____ Arrange for the class to meet with Houghton staff (Exhibition Coordinator, Imaging Liaison, and Preservation Librarian) during the first few weeks to learn exhibition procedures.

  7. _____ Designate a single Point Person from the class to communicate decisions about materials selection to the Exhibition Coordinator.

  8. During the Semester

  9. _____ Select materials in good condition. Conservation guidelines for selection are located further down the page in section IV. In this short time frame, it will not be possible to schedule conservation work.

  10. _____ Use Houghton's Selection Spreadsheet for Course Exhibitions to record your list of selected materials, the desired page openings, and requests for digital images. Please flag the pages you want to have duplicated and/or displayed and provide us with detailed guidance on the flags themselves (e.g. Folio C verso, woodcut only; Letter dated 5 June 1834, front page). Then email the completed spreadsheet to the Exhibition Coordinator, Peter Accardo.

  11. _____Six weeks in advance of the opening date, turn in the Selection Spreadsheet to the Exhibition Coordinator. No changes will be accepted after that date.

    The Exhibition Coordinator will distribute the spreadsheet to Houghton’s Registrar/Preservation Librarian who will arrange for curatorial and conservation reviews of materials on the list. Once the list is approved, she will send a copy to the Registrar at the hosting venue (point person for negotiating exhibition loans and installation) who will generate an exhibition loan letter for Houghton. The Preservation Librarian will then arrange to measure and build all display mounts for the exhibition. Houghton Imaging Services Liaison will prepare materials designated for scanning and arrange for HCL Imaging Services to create professional quality images.

  12. ____ Five weeks in advance of the opening date, if the class wants to have the images created earlier than opening day (for a website or printed catalogue), please submit the Selection Spreadsheet for Course Exhibitions, with those images identified, five weeks before the publisher’s/designer’s deadline.

  13. _____ Three weeks in advance of the opening date, all label text goes to the hosting venue’s Registrar or appropriate point person so s/he can make the labels. Houghton will supply credit lines for the labels to the hosting venue three weeks in advance.

  14. _____ Three weeks in advance of the opening date, the exhibitor provides the Exhibition Coordinator with the case layout for installation.

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One-Case Shows

Faculty and students can reserve the "Chaucer Case" at the base of the Houghton stairwell to exhibit one or two items as part of their coursework. If the case is available, and the material is in good condition, the exhibition can be created in three weeks, just contact Houghton's Exhibition Coordinator, Peter Accardo, to make arrangements. We encourage students to create a Houghton Blog entry to accompany their exhibitions.

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Appropriate Venues

Exhibition spaces must be secure and climate controlled. Campus venues, outside Houghton, will need to provide Houghton with a facilities report for evaluation and approval. Create a standard facilities report based onpoint "C" on ALA's Guidelines for Borrowing and Lending Special Collections Materials for Exhibition, or complete the American Association of Museums Standard Facility Report -- United States form.

Borrowers should indicate specific location(s) within the museum or library where materials will be displayed, and should indicate how they propose to display materials: framed on a wall, flat in an exhibition case, supported by book cradles, or other conventional installation positions. Please note that Folio and Portfolio volumes must be displayed on lower shelves.

Houghton Library staff will take care of mount-making, and installation (including transport to other sites on campus).

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Selecting Materials in Good Condition

Materials in need of conservation services will have to be treated before they can be exhibited. These are often time-consuming processes. To ensure your exhibition can take place in a timely fashion, please make every attempt to select materials that are in good condition.

Use the criteria below for selecting photographs, flat paper and bound materials.

  • materials that are structurally intact – avoid items with tears; loose text leaves or sections; broken, failing, or missing sewing; detached pieces; unsightly repairs; structural distortions like cockling, warping, or wrinkles
  • bound items that open easily to at least 90 degrees
  • flat paper that lies flat
  • materials that are not made of parchment
  • items that will fit in the exhibition cases. Please note that books are displayed in V-forms (a book cradle) that add some height to the opened book
  • matted and framed prints and drawings

If you wish to use other types of materials, you will need to consult with the Houghton Preservation Librarian.

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