Cross-posted from Notes from Under Grounds, the blog of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
Just a stone’s throw away from #13 West Range—the purported room of the University of Virginia’s masterful matriculate of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe—the Reference Team of the Small Special Collections Library have ferreted out a frightening and ghoulish collection of items for the exhibition “What Lies Beneath: The Macabre and Spooktacular of Special Collections,” on display through December 21, 2019 in the library’s first-floor gallery.
From the library’s world-renowned subterranean treasure trove of more than 16 million objects, Special Collections staff have left no page unturned, no manuscript box unopened, to disinter the dark side of Special Collections—a pop-up of Poe’s The Raven; a miniature of his story “The Tell-Tale Heart”; a broken windowpane believed to be from his room on the Range, etched with characteristically macabre verse; a copy of Oliver Cromwell’s death mask; a leather book edged with shark teeth; a fierce hound’s face, part of the leather binding for a miniature book, The Hound of the Baskervilles: Conclusion & Retrospection.
This exhibition is designed to whet the appetite of ghoul seekers young and old. Come meet James Steele, the Revolutionary War soldier who lost his head and lived to tell about it; have a Dance with Death; perhaps sample an embalming recipe that’s simply to die for. As you explore this exhibition, we hope you will go, in the words of Edgar Allan Poe, “[d]eep into that darkness peering … wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal dared to dream before.”