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Drew University Students, Staff Curate Lord Byron Exhibit

The exhibit is on display at the Special Collections and University Archives

February 2024 – Drew University students and staff collaborated to curate an exhibit on Lord Byron, currently on display at the Special Collections and University Archives on campus.

The exhibit explores the life and works of Lord Byron, utilizing the extensive resources of the Byron Society Collection and other Drew University Special Collections. The exhibit commemorates the 200th anniversary of Lord Byron’s death, and provides a comprehensive account of his life, with focus on his notable poetry produced throughout his 36 years.

To create the exhibit, Mary Cannaday G’24, Maura Kelly C’24, and Sudenaz Yilmaz C’25 teamed up with Candace Reilly, manager of Special Collections.

“We wanted to showcase the wealth of materials and the importance of material culture to tell the story of Lord Byron’s travels,” explained Reilly.

The three students brought varying amounts of familiarity to the project and subject, and all came away with valuable hands-on experience that will aid them in their academic and career pursuits.

“This was one of the more complex exhibits I’ve worked on in the Drew Archives, and the experience was one of learning and entertainment,” said Cannaday, a history PhD candidate in the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. “Planning exhibits is a great skill for me to develop for my career goals.”

“I have been digitizing the Byron Realia Collection and updating the Jstor Forum for over a year,” said Kelly, an art history major. “I plan to pursue a career in archives, special collections, or museums, so this kind of experience was right up my alley. I was able to put my past experience in curation to use, while also gaining new knowledge about the library world throughout the curation process, like how to identify the edition of the book through the catalog and the physical book itself. Each exhibition I have participated in I always gain a better understanding of the field, and want to learn even more.”

“This was my first major project working in Special Collections,” said Yilmaz, an art history and studio art double major. “Witnessing how an exhibition is planned from start to finish was quite eye-opening and encouraged me to get involved in more projects like this. I am interested in careers both in academia and the cultural sector. Conducting research and contextualizing my findings around a central theme improved my organizational skills, and assisting with curation and other exhibition-related tasks helped me understand more clearly the challenges and requirements of exhibition-making. All these experiences will help me tremendously in both academic and museum settings.”

Yilmaz is now working on digitizing the exhibit.

Members of the Drew and local community are encouraged to view the exhibit at the Special Collections and University Archives in the United Methodist Archives and History Center across from the University Library. The exhibit will be on display through May 20, 2024.

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