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A Nostalgic Filter: Medieval Manuscripts in the Digital Age is presented by the University Art Gallery (UAG) and the Department of History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh with generous support from The Fine Foundation. This exhibition would not have been possible without the outstanding facsimile collection housed in Pitt's University Library System (ULS). We would like to offer special thanks to our colleagues in ULS, who partnered with us throughout the research process and exhibition production. We would also like to thank the Jewish Studies Program and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for their support of this project.
Above all, we would like to thank Prof. Shirin Fozi and the students in HAA0019: Curatorial Research and HAA1022: Exhibition Presentation for their dedication to this project, especially amidst this very turbulent time. Their commitment, flexibility and creativity helped make this exhibition a reality.HAA 1019, Spring 2020
Victoria SwindleHAA 1022, Fall 2020
Celia Maiers Cubas
Siying Jenny Wang
María-del-Carmen Barrios Giordano, Graduate Fellow, University Art Gallery
Shirin Fozi, Associate Professor, History of Art & Architecture
Kiana Jones, Fine Arts Librarian, Frick Fine Arts Library
Sylvia Rhor Samaniego, Director & Curator, University Art Gallery
Ana Rodríguez Castillo, Graphic Designer
University Library System, Pitt
Kornelia Tancheva, Director
Dan Tam Do
Tracey Jean Olanyk
Angela Bedford-Jack, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, University of Pittsburgh
Gretchen Bender, History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
Adam S. Cohen, University of Toronto
Joseph Derosier, Beloit College
Alyssa DiFolco, History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
Sonja Drimmer, University of Massachusetts – Amherst
Julie Harris, Independent Scholar, Glencoe, IL
Lynley Herbert, Walters Art Museum
Linda Hicks, History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
Sahar Hosseini, History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
Suzanne Karr Schmidt, Newberry Library
Bryan C. Keene, J. Paul Getty Museum and Riverside City College
Alison Langmead, Visual Media Workshop, University of Pittsburgh
Irina Livezeanu, History and Jewish Studies, University of Pittsburgh
Christopher J. Nygren, History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
Giovanni Scorcioni, Facsimile Finder
Adam Shear, Religious Studies and Jewish Studies, University of Pittsburgh
Karoline Swiontek, History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
Alex Taylor, History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
Bruce Venarde, History, University of Pittsburgh
Carolyn Wargula, Williams College
Emily Witthohn, University of Pittsburgh
For questions regarding this exhibition, please email the University Art Gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The medievalist Michael Camille once suggested that facsimiles of medieval manuscripts are ‘nostalgic mirrors’ that primarily reflect the desires of the modern era in which they are made. Though intended as a critical reminder that copies never fully recreate their models, the phrase also presents an apt characterization of what facsimiles offer, even if only imperfectly: not only the appearance, but also the experience of medieval books. This exhibition thus embraces Camille’s analogy and extends it to the concept of the lens, or the filter, that mediates online viewing in a moment of social media but also social distancing. Facsimiles do not replace originals; nor do they reproduce them with perfect authenticity. Instead, they invite us in to see the books from new perspectives, to become curious, to turn the pages, and to learn.
This student-curated exhibition for the University Art Gallery (UAG) at the University of Pittsburgh displays illuminated manuscripts through print and digital copies, with a focus on the University of Pittsburgh’s outstanding facsimile collection. Rare and collectible books in their own right, these lavish copies are designed to reproduce the look and feel of their inaccessible models as closely as possible. Unlike illustrations that only present a single page as a detached image, facsimiles show manuscripts as coherent books, contextualizing their illuminations within complete objects that preserve many traces of use and provenance that have accumulated between their covers over the centuries. As organizers of the exhibition we have been mindful of preserving and promoting this quality of the facsimiles in an online format, using video, photography, and digitization to see old books in new ways. In a time when most of our interactions happen online, handling and manipulating the books offered a rare experience: one rooted in the physical dynamics of the turning page. We invite you to join us as we leaf through this collection together.
The exhibition is divided into six thematic sections which can be navigated using the table of contents in the upper left-hand corner. The sections were developed to reflect particular strengths in Pitt’s facsimile collection, which has been shaped in turn by the teaching and research priorities of students and faculty over many decades.