For more than 100 years, the New York Public Library has been a treasure trove of free books, information, education and a place of respite for millions of New Yorkers and tourists alike.
Over the decades, the NYPL has also amassed more than 46 million treasures, items that range from manuscripts to rare books, prints, photos, ephemera and more, that have been accessible to the public for research purposes at four branches across the city.
Now, thanks to a generous $12 million donation from Dr. Leonard Polonsky and The Polonsky Foundation, visitors will be able to check out, pun intended, the New York Public Library treasures in a permanent exhibit set to open in the fall of 2020.
The rotating NYPL treasures will be on display in the 64,000-square-foot Gottesman Hall on the ground floor of the iconic Stephan A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.
“All members of the public deserve to see and be inspired by The New York Public Library’s countless treasures, carefully preserved as part of the institution’s vast research collections for over a century,” said NYPL President Anthony W. Marx. “This new exhibition will showcase our collections, highlight the importance of research libraries to audiences new and familiar and hopefully excite a new generation of researchers.”
What will the New York Public Library treasures exhibit feature?
While the NYPL has long displayed its treasures, the Polonsky Exhibition will be the first to showcase how deep and vast its collection is.
As the unveiling is about two years away, specifics about the New York Public Library treasures exhibit are not yet known, but there’s a good chance these items could be part of the rotation at some point:
• The Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson
• The original Bill of Rights
• George Washington’s handwritten farewell address
• Manuscripts material from Jack Kerouac, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, Herman Melville, Virginia Woolf, Truman Capote, Maya Angelou and many more
• Original Beethoven and Mozart sheet music
• Early dance footage of Baryshnikov, Jerome Robbins, Merce Cunningham and others
• Frank Braun’s pen-and-ink drawings of “The Wizard of Oz”
• A circa-2,300 BCE Sumerian cuneiform tablet
• The work of iconic photographers like Diane Arbus, Lewis Hine and Richard Avedon
• The original Winnie-The-Pooh and friends dolls