A Campus Treasure Hunt!

July 27, 2015

Did you know that the #1 most-visited place in Connecticut by a schoolchild is Yale’s Peabody Museum? Earlier this month the New York Times gave a nice shout-out to the museum’s summer camp for budding “dinosaur detectives.” For most of us in the Yale community, the many artifacts housed on our campus need no introduction. And yet, the article got me thinking: how many of us take the time to embrace our inner detective (or our inner second-grader, for that matter) to really look at them?

With both the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library under renovation, now would seem an unlikely time to delve into the university’s collections. But for those ready for a bit of adventure, there is a veritable treasure hunt awaiting as many of our most precious holdings take up short-term residence in unlikely places. The Beinecke’s Gutenberg Bible, for example, is on display at the Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG). Some of our rarest ornithology volumes, from John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, have found a temporary roosting spot in the Peabody’s third-floor gallery. Meanwhile, Haitian paintings from the Peabody’s anthropology collection are being treated at the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage Conservation Lab, work that can be seen by visitors passing through the lab’s corridor. Works from the YCBA are on view in the European galleries of the YUAG and, farther afield, several of the center’s best-known paintings, by George Stubbs, are paying a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Of course, not all of our treasures are on the move. Back at the Peabody, if you have not been to see Yale’s own “thunder lizard” since the restoration of its rightful name, now would be a great time to escape the heat at the museum’s Great Hall of Dinosaurs. And most people think that the university’s only rare books are in the Beinecke, when in fact there are a number of special libraries across our campus housing treasures of their own. At the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library, the foundations of the scientific revolution are on display in two works dating to 1543: Andreas Vesalius’s Humani Corporis Fabrica, credited by historians for the birth of modern anatomy, and Nicolaus Copernicus’s De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, which posited a heliocentric universe. And among the collections of Yale’s Divinity Library are translations of the Bible in more than 175 languages!

I encourage you to share the bounty of your own explorations of campus—this summer and throughout the year—through our social media channels by using the hashtag #InspiringYale.