Melville in Philadelphia: The Rosenbach to Show American Voyager: Herman Melville at 200
Major exhibition to celebrate the bicentennial of Melville’s birth with display of manuscripts, first editions, whaling artifacts, and public programs.
The Rosenbach, a museum and special collections library affiliated with the Free Library of Philadelphia, will unveil a major exhibition to honor the 200th anniversary of the birth of Herman Melville. American Voyager: Herman Melville at 200 will open on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 and run through Sunday, April 5, 2020. The exhibition will feature two galleries of artifacts, including first editions of all of Melville’s novels published during the author’s lifetime, several manuscript letters and other documents in Melville’s own hand, as well as artworks and artifacts evoking the heyday of the whaling industry in the 19th century.
In light of the breadth of The Rosenbach’s Melville collection, visitors to American Voyager will enjoy the opportunity to view artifacts in exhibition cases and then participate in regularly-offered “Hands-on Tours” focusing on early editions of Melville’s works. Visitors are also encouraged to explore The Rosenbach’s other offerings, including regularly-scheduled tours of the stately Rosenbach house on picturesque Delancey Place in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of Philadelphia, and a stellar lineup of Melville-inspired events and programs to be offered while the exhibition is on display.
The Rosenbach is a must-see attraction for any book lover. An historic house museum and special collections library established in 1954 by prominent antique, rare book, and manuscript dealers Philip and A.S.W. Rosenbach, the museum and library are home to remarkable holdings in art, history, and literature. The institution’s Melville holdings are especially notable and include such treasures as a copy of The Whale presented by Herman Melville to his father-in-law Lemuel Shaw, a copy of Pierre presented by the author to Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne, and a rare copy of Timoleon (all pictured). The exhibition will also reveal fascinating and little-known Philadelphia-area connections to the whale fishery and invite reflection on Herman Melville’s literary and historical legacy.
Inscribed presentation copy of The Whale, presented by Herman Melville to his father-in-law Lemuel Shaw, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, in 1852. Rosenbach Call No. AL1 .M531mo 851a.
Inscribed presentation copy of Pierre: Or, the Ambiguities, presented by Herman Melville to Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne, 1852. Rosenbach Call No. AL1 .M531pi.
Rare copy of Timoleon in the Rosenbach collection.