Cut, Eaten, Burnt, Stained: The Perilous Life of Old Books

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

You can’t judge a book by its cover, unless the cover is 300 years old, worm-devoured, or from a remote archive in the Mediterranean Sea. Then, an archival expert can conclude a lot—not just about the individual book, but about the culture and society that produced it. 

The public will have the opportunity to learn about this and more from HMML archival experts at three lectures taking place this spring. 


In the second lecture, HMML’s Assistant Director for Strategic Development, Dr. Melissa Moreton, will explore the world of damaged medieval books and demonstrate the resilience of these carriers of knowledge. The manuscripts and early printed books that have survived across the centuries have endured use by many hands and abuse in many forms. Manuscripts have been cut up, their illuminations sold and dispersed, eaten by book worms and rodents, damaged in floods and fires—but often survive these ravages to carry forward the messages held within their covers.

In the third lecture, Dr. Matthew Heintzelman, Curator of Western Collections and Rare Books at HMML, will look at the history of monastic collections that were built over centuries and their removal to the Bavarian State Library, state libraries and archives in Austria.

7pm - 9pm

Wine receptions to follow

Free and open to the public

PART 3: Thu, April 16th 7pm - 9pm
Books Ripped Away: Secularization and the 
Removal of Monastic Books to State Libraries 

Target Performance Hall at Open Book
Minnesota Center for Book Arts
1011 Washington Avenue S., First Floor
Minneapolis, MN

44.9755212, -93.254188