Page 107 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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L E O N A R D S IN G E R G O L D
A Sign and A Witness: The Making
of an Exhibition
“A
S
ign
and
A
W
itness
:
2000 Years o f Hebrew Books and
Illuminated Manuscripts,” the international exhibiton held in
the Gottesman Exhibition Hall o f The New York Public Library,
opened to the public on October 15, 1988 and closed, three
months later, on January 14, 1989. Attendance during this short
time approached 150,000, setting a record for any exhibition
ever held at The Library and surpassing by far the previous
record o f 90,000 set by the Wordsworth exhibition a year
earlier.
A museum official whose responsibilities are national in scope
wrote:
The current exhibition,
A Sign and A Witness,
is so significant
that I really must write to share my enthusiasm and my gratitude.
I have watched the various attempts to grapple with this subject
over the past quarter century, and indeed was involved in one
of them myself, in the mid-60’s, so have an appreciation for the
range of the subject matter and the impressive ingathering you
have achieved.
Most gratifying has been my view of the visitors, who seem
to be going through the exhibition with great care and interest.
T ha t’s especially encouraging, considering that so many large
exhibitions seem to get only the most cursory glances from the
crowds passing by. This difference is a tribute to the compelling
nature of the material, and to the way in which it is displayed.
A scholar o f the Hebrew book wrote:
I felt that with this exhibit, Jews, Jewish books, the Jewish
heritage, finally became fully emancipated, and a great sense of
pride overcame m e .. . . Every aspect of this magnificent and daz­
zling display, the artistic, the scholarly, the technical and the or­
ganizational, is most amazing.