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A set of three antique, graduated, stackable wooden boxes, each with a curved lid, painted in a distressed red with faint foliage motifs, featuring a central metal pull handle, resting on small, stylized feet.
Exhibition

Emulating Books: Book Objects from the Lynn and Bruce Heckman Gift

Fino al 16 luglio
Free with Museum admission

Creating objects in book form has been an artistic practice for a millennium. These personal, inventive objects are ubiquitous in many cultures. They have been made for various purposes by people from all walks of life and skill levels. Whether precious or plain, useful or symbolic, they all benefit from their connection to the book. For example, the book-style relic of the ship Eurydice, which sank in 1878, killing over 300 sailors, was carved from a piece of the ship, and serves as an emblem documenting the history of the event, as well as a memorial book honoring the dead.

An object made in the form of a book translates the meaning of the type of book it emulates, therefore imbuing the object with the emotional, material, or spiritual values of the original or imagined book. These objects can express feelings of love, enlightenment, humor and faith, and sometimes the mere experience of holding a book object, as with a treasured tome, can comfort its owner, as in the case of the solid wood Holy Bible which will never open, but comforts just the same. As a result of the book’s power, traditions of making specific types of book objects, such as book safes and game boards, have evolved and flourished. Examples of these traditions, made during the eighteenth to twentieth centuries can be seen in this exhibition.

The Heckman collection is a gift to the Thomas J. Watson Library from Lynn Geringer Heckman, who began collecting objects in book form with her late husband Bruce Heckman in 1989, eventually amassing over 1,000 works. The Watson gift is a select group chosen from the larger collection.

The objects on display will be available for consultation in our Reading Room at the conclusion of the exhibition. Information on using the library is here.

Marquee: Graduated, three-tiered, footed box in book form, between 1870 and 1879. 1 chest of drawers : painted wood (yellow poplar and birch). 7 1/16 × 9 1/16 in. (18 × 23 × 17 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library, Gift of Lynn and Bruce Heckman, 2023 (N7433.3 .G73 1870)

Plan Your Visit

A set of three antique, graduated, stackable wooden boxes, each with a curved lid, painted in a distressed red with faint foliage motifs, featuring a central metal pull handle, resting on small, stylized feet.