Pop-Up Books through the Ages


Pop-up with Cats: Immer froh tagaus, tagein: ein Panorama-Bilderbuch mit heiteren Verse, Cornelie Lechler. ca. 1893.

A new exhibition focuses on the long history of pop-up books with moving parts, dials, three-dimensional spreads, and interactive flaps.

Pop-Up Books through the Ages at the Newberry - Trienens Galleries in Chicago examines how these special volumes have been popular with readers of all ages and date back to at least the 1100s. Initially aimed for scholarly readers, the exhibition traces how this form of hands-on reading grew in popularity, especially among children, and looks at the business, art, and science of the genre.

The displays feature books, maps, and ephemera from the Newberry’s own collection. Among items with interactive elements on show are a 1483 astronomical calendar and a 1775 battle map as well as a 1932 edition of Pinocchio.
As well as historical examples, the exhibition includes the work of contemporary book and paper artists. Among these is a pop-up version of the Newberry designed by book artists Hannah Batsel and Shawn Sheehy which visitors can take home and construct themselves.

Pop-Up Books through the Ages is free and runs March 21 – July 15, 2023. Guided tours are available Tuesdays-Saturdays. A special workshop, Engineering Pop-Ups in the 20th Century, led by Shawn Sheehy will be held on May 6 looking at paper engineering and offering attendees the chance to make their own paper structures inspired by pop-up books in the Newberry collection.