Arthur Ross Gallery to Feature Medieval, Renaissance Manuscripts from Free Library of Philadelphia

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Media Contact:Sara Stewart | | 215-898-3617September 26, 2007

PHILADELPHIA -- The University of Pennsylvania's Arthur Ross Gallery will present "Treasured Pages: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts from the Free Library of Philadelphia" beginning Oct. 13 and running through Jan. 6.

The exhibition features 43 codices and single leaves from one of the most significant collections in the United States.  The exhibition is a rare opportunity to view hidden treasures that provide a glimpse into medieval intellectual and artistic culture.

The manuscripts range in date from the 10th to the 16th centuries.  They will be organized according to themes based on content and use, including Ritual, Devotion and Prayer; Learning and Leisure; Politics and Law; and the Bible.

A symposium organized in conjunction with the exhibition, "The Treasured Hunt: Collecting Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts Past, Present and Future" will be held on Nov. 2 at the Penn Humanities Forum, 3619 Locust Walk.  Those who wish to register may 800-390-1829 or can register online at

Manuscripts were selected by curator Lynn Ransom for their visual beauty as well as their historical relevance. Those in "The Bible" section show the way scripture, which was originally the purview of monasteries, shifted to the universities and, eventually, the laity.   The manuscripts in the "Learning and Leisure" section show the role of manuscripts in education and entertainment, while those under "Ritual" feature manuscripts by known illuminators whose works were collected and highly valued. The manuscripts in the "Politics and Law" section speak to the power and prestige that the written word held in medieval society, as well as their role as propaganda.

The exhibition is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Arthur Ross Gallery, The Free Library of Philadelphia, the Penn Law School and the Office of the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Penn with additional support from Mr. and Mrs. George G. Gillespie; The Richard Meier Foundation; the Penn departments of the History of Art, Classical Studies, Comparative Literature, English, Germanic Languages, History, Music, Philosophy, Religious Studies and Romance Languages; and Rita Copeland and Emily Steiner.

The exhibition is also made possible, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services for the Free Library's project to digitize manuscripts.  

The Arthur Ross Gallery is located at 220 S. 34th St. and is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, noon-5 p.m.  All exhibitions are free and open to the public.  Additional information about the exhibition is available at 215-898-2083 or