The Power of Display: Books as Transformative Tools in Exhibitions 

Course Information

Instructor: Jennifer Cohlman Bracchi & Vanessa Haight Smith
Location: Smithsonian Libraries and Archives / Washington D.C.
Mode: In-person
Dates: August 14 – August 18
Tuition: $1200.00


Using a curatorial lens, this course offers an introduction to organizing exhibitions of books and archive materials and will demonstrate their role as agents for primary source literacy instruction while behind glass. Guided by Smithsonian Libraries and Archives staff and supported by cooperative classroom learning, participants will design an exhibit prototype. Students will enhance their skills necessary for selecting material, developing concepts, and applying critical analysis of texts and written interpretation. Understanding relationships at the institutional level and beyond will be an integral part of learning as examined through case study projects and guest speakers.

Discussions will also include the nature of book and paper materials, appropriate handling, and environmental management as it applies to preservation issues in exhibition display.  Classes will comprise of lectures, assigned readings, and site visits including – current library exhibitions; a Smithsonian unit providing exhibit planning, development, design, and production services; and a book conservation lab where students will gain hands-on experience designing and creating book supports. 





Completion of this course helps to meet requirements for one of the following certificate requirements:

  • 1 of 3 elective credit courses for Certificate in Rare Books and Manuscripts, or
  • 1 of 2 elective credit courses for Certificate in Librarianship, Activism, and Justice