This exhibition is on display during the 500th anniversary of her death. Elizabeth's career as Queen, the political workings of her court, and the cultural and diplomatic worlds of 16th-century England are all examined. According to the Newberry Library, the exhibition features beautiful and rare books, maps, manuscripts, and decorative objects from the Newberry's renowned Elizabethan collections, the British Library, the Art Institute of Chicago, libraries at the University of Kansas and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and distinguished private collections.
We were lucky enough to partake in a gallery walk, and the curator was very informative, explaining the history behind the documents. Several of the documents are difficult to read, since they are handwritten in Middle English. But it is interesting to see the handwriting of people you have learned about in history classes through the years. There are even several letters Elizabeth herself wrote, in perfect handwriting.
There is also some rare artwork on display as part of the exhibit. It ends up that a Chicago native has been collecting Elizabethan artworks and through an association with the Newberry Library, heard about the exhibit. He lent his pieces only to be on display here in Chicago.
Walking through the exhibit is like being suspended in time. I have been to several museum exhibits before, but this one is different. Its use of letters written by these fascinating people and the books they read or that were written about them in their time, instead of our modern time, is very unique. There are some letters written from Elizabeth to her sister Mary when Mary was Queen, and letters from James I (before he was king) to Queen Elizabeth asking about why she signed the death warrant of his mother, Mary Queen of Scots. Elizabeth's reply is included as well. These pairings of letters let the visitor understand some of the games being played between these great powers.
Several programs on Queen Elizabeth I and in conjunction with the Newberry Libaray are offered throughout the length of the exhibit. A Shakespeare "original practices" production of Twelfth Night and a modern version of the Henry VI trilogy, Rose Rage, are scheduled. Other programs range for a talk about the Queen's many suitors, movie nights, and performances of Tudor music.
This exhibit is free. No photographs are allowed inside the exhibit. A few postcards and a book have been especially created for this exhibit and are for sale in the Newberry Library gift shop.
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April 12, 2005
There are free tours on Saturdays at 10:30am. In the lobby you can see exhibits on subjects such as Queen Elizabeth I, calligraphy, Lewis and Clark, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and more.
Check their website for more info.
From journal Sweet Home, Chicago
November 2, 2003
From journal Chicago: Museum Exhibits during the Fall of 2003