Page 111 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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GOLD /A SIGN AND A WITNESS: THE MAKING OF AN EXHIBITION
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ature, and the world, that is, both the human and the physical
world, and including such topics as relations between Jews and
Gentiles, movements within Judaism, philosophy and the sci­
ences. These would later be called: I. In the Beginning, II. A
Fence Around the Law, III. Remember This Day, IV. Tongue
of the Wise, and V. The World and the Fulness Thereof. Be­
cause so many of the illuminated manuscripts were Haggadot,
we later decided to divide Section III into subsections of Hag­
gadot and other liturgical and related works. Naturally, since
most of the printed books were to come from The Library’s
own collections, final selection of these took place much later.
We believed that texts would provide a more instructive and
more interesting organizing principle than pure criteria of book
production. Nevertheless, information on scripts, typefaces,
other aspects of book production, as well as on Jewish life, his­
tory and customs, and relevant aspects of world history, was
conveyed in the labels throughout the exhibition. And to en­
hance public understanding, we later decided to add two large
panels, one a time chart listing, in a central column, selected
items from the exhibition produced in different periods, with
a column of contemporary developments in Jewish history to
the right and in world history to the left; and the other panel
showing examples of various Hebrew scripts and typefaces
based upon those scripts, all taken from material that was on
display.
In discussing the question of a catalog for the exhibition we
quickly concluded that a companion volume containing a dozen
specially-commissioned essays written for the educated lay per­
son on topics relevant to the exhibition, supplemented by a bib­
liography, a glossary and a checklist of items exhibited, with
many illustrations in color and in black and white, would be
more useful to the viewing public than a catalog in the strict
sense of the word. We hoped that the volume would prepare
the visitor for seeing the exhibition, provide the basis for further
reading, and still serve as a record of the event. This companion
volume, which came to bear the same title as the exhibition
itself,
A Sign and A Witness: 2000 Years of Hebrew Books and Il­
luminated Manuscripts,
appeared over the joint imprint of The
New York Public Library and Oxford University Press. That
it is a very beautiful book is a credit to Marilan M. Lund, co­
ordinator of The Library’s Graphics Office, who designed it.