We don’t know about you, but one of the things we miss the most about pre-pandemic life is the joy and wonder of a really excellent museum exhibit. But until it’s safe to get up close and personal with the art, we’re daydreaming about the literary exhibits we want to visit – and doing some virtual museum hopping as we explore their digital collections. It’s International Museum Day, so here we go!
The Rosenbach (Philadelphia, PA)
We don’t want to brag, but Quirk Books just happens to share a city with one of the best literary museums in the country. The Rosenbach is home to a collection of rare books and manuscripts, including James Joyce’s manuscript for Ulysses and the papers of the poet Marianne Moore. The museum is currently open to the public with safety measures in place, but The Rosenbach has plenty of virtual programs and collections to satisfy even the most curious visitor.
The Library of Congress (Washington, DC)
While we love to represent our hometown pride, we absolutely have to spotlight The Library of Congress, the largest library in the world! Part museum, part utopia for researchers, The Library of Congress is a phenomenal resource for the creative and curious. While the library (and its excellent docent-led tours) are closed to the public until further notice, several exhibitions and their entire digital collection are available to peruse online, from anywhere in the world.
The British Library (London, UK)
If you’ve been craving some international travel, a virtual visit to The British Library is the next best thing. They’ve got a fantastic digital collection, including maps and doctoral theses from every higher education program in the UK. And until it’s safe to travel again, we’ll be daydreaming about seeing their incredible collection in person – including John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics to “Strawberry Fields Forever.” If you just so happen to live in London, you’re in luck! The British Library is now open to visitors who book in advance.
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (Amherst, MA)
If you have little ones at home – or if you’re just a big fan of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, you’ll want to check out The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. The Carle is now open, with safety measures in place, of course. So, if you’re within driving distance of Amherst, go ahead and make your bookish dreams come true! And if you’re looking for a stimulating virtual exhibit, you’re in luck. The Carle has two great exhibitions on their website – ART in PLACE: Social Distancing in the Studio and Now & Then: Contemporary Illustrators and their Childhood Art. Embrace your inner child and dive on in!
Emily Dickinson Museum (Amherst, MA)
If you discovered the Apple TV+ series Dickinson during the pandemic, chances are the Emily Dickinson Museum is at the top of your must-visit list once it’s safe to travel. (And it’s coincidently located in the same town as The Carle. An embarrassment of riches!) In the meantime, check out this museum’s virtual programming, including an online exhibit called The World Writes Back: Postcards to Emily Dickinson. This exhibit, inspired by Dickinson’s poem “This is my letter to the World / That never wrote to Me –,” invited the public to write directly to Dickinson. The museum received an estimated 1,000 postcards from around the world. This online exhibit continues to grow as more postcards are digitized, and it’s so beautiful.