Library Exhibitions

Elizabeth Elliott, Simple Steps, 2000; Gift of the artist

Within the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, special exhibitions illustrate and interpret the history of women in the arts through the display of archival documents and rare books.

Exhibitions showcase artist correspondence, sketchings, ephemera, photographs, posters, rare books, museum archival material, and artists’ books.

The Library and Research Center is open Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–12 p.m. and 1 p.m.–5 p.m. and is closed on major holidays.

Current Exhibitions

MAY 16 2016–NOV 18 2016

Priya Pereira: Contemporary Artists’ Books from India

Based in Mumbai, India, book artist Priya Pereira (b. 1967) trained as a graphic designer. Isolated from other book artists, Pereira began creating artists’ books six years before she knew that the genre had a name. She published works under the imprint Pixie Bks for the last 22 years, exploring subjects including Indian culture, time, and language through creative structures, use of type, and hand-drawn images. The artist describes The Book of F as “dotted with ditties that popularize the ‘F’ word without once mentioning the most used and abused word,” and The Wise Man and His Long Beard represents a folktale through a beard made out of lamp wicks. This exhibition showcases 10 of Pereira’s artists’ books.


Artists’ Books from the Permanent Collection

This ongoing exhibition highlights the museum’s diverse collection of more than 1,000 artists’ books in a variety of formats—such as sculptural, tunnel, altered, movable, miniature, and accordian. Various techniques on display include etchings, drawings, digital photography, offset printing, and mixed media.

Past Exhibitions

NOV 16 2015–MAY 13 2016

Womanimal: Zine Art by Caroline Paquita

Caroline Paquita (b. 1980) is a Brooklyn-based artist, zinester, and founder of Pegacorn Press. Her first self-published zine, Brazen Hussy, used xerography like other punk zines of the 1990s, but it already shows evidence of Paquita’s distinctive aesthetic, which features strong line work. Paquita’s recent work has focused on envisioning “Womanimals”—half-woman/half-animal creatures that seek to interject a queered whimsy and irreverence into distracted modern culture. This exhibition showcases Paquita’s punk art zine-making over the past 18 years.

MAY 11–NOV 13 2015

Vanessa Bell’s Hogarth Press Designs

Vanessa Bell (1879–1961) was an English painter, designer, and important member of the Bloomsbury group, a cluster of culturally influential figures in early 20th-century London. Throughout her career, she designed many book jackets and illustrations for Hogarth Press, a British publishing house founded by Bell’s sister, author Virginia Woolf, and Leonard Woolf. This exhibition showcases several examples of Bell’s exquisite, yet simple, designs.

NOV 17 2014–MAY 08 2015

Doris Lee: American Painter and Illustrator

Doris Emrick Lee (1905–1983) was an American painter and illustrator best known for her painting Thanksgiving, which won the prestigious Logan Prize at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1935. In her wide-ranging career, she painted murals for the United States Post Office buildings, participated in annual exhibitions at the Carnegie Institute in Washington, D.C., created commissioned work for Life magazine, and illustrated children’s books. Lee’s art was also featured on greeting cards, calendars, menus, pottery, and fabric. This exhibition showcases photographs, sketches, and objects from the Doris Lee Papers housed in the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center.

MAY 12–NOV 14 2014

The First Woman Graphic Novelist: Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová

Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová (1894–1980) was a Czech graphic artist whose 1929 novel Z mého dětství (From My Childhood) is widely acknowledged to be the first wordless novel created by a woman. Bochořáková-Dittrichová’s appealing and warm woodcut style was influenced by pioneering Belgian graphic artist Frans Masereel. This exhibition showcases five of her published novels as well as her unpublished book Malířka Na Cestách (The Artist on her Journey), which contains 52 original woodcuts about a young woman artist studying abroad, mirroring Bochořáková-Dittrichová’s own life at the beginning of her career.

NOV 04 2013–MAY 09 2014

Equal Exposure: Anita Steckel’s Fight Against Censorship

Anita Steckel (1930–2012), a feminist American artist, countered the art-world establishment through depictions of heterosexual female desire. She sparked a media scandal in 1972 by refusing to self-censor an exhibition of her exuberant and shameless female and male erotic figures, instead creating the Fight Censorship Group. Personal papers, photographs, and art from the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center’s Anita Steckel Papers illustrate her boundary-pushing art and activism.

MAY 10–NOV 01 2013

Making Her Mark: Publishers’ Bindings by Women

In the 19th century, book publishers developed new bookbinding methods to respond to the desires of an increasingly educated general public. One of these shifts was using cloth to bind books instead of the more expensive leather and the less resilient paper bindings. This provided an avenue for women artists to make their mark on bookbinding design, and soon, they became some of the most successful designers.

NOV 01 2012–APR 30 2013

A Museum of Their Own: 25 Years of NMWA History

A Museum of Their Own: 25 Years of NMWA History illustrates the history of the museum through documents, printed matter, and photographs selected from the institutional archives.

MAY 01–JUL 31 2012

Mamacita Linda: Letters between Frida Kahlo and her Mother

A selection of intimate letters sent between Frida Kahlo and her mother, Matilde Calderón de Kahlo, in the years just before her mother’s death.