“devoted entirely to rare books and manuscripts”
The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is one of the world's largest libraries devoted entirely to rare books and manuscripts and is Yale's principal repository for literary archives, early manuscripts, and rare books. The Beinecke Library's robust collections are used to create new scholarship by researchers from around the world. Perhaps the most famous rare piece in the collection is Voynich Manuscript, a 16th century book written in a strange language yet to be deciphered, which has continued to puzzle researchers to this day. Written in Central Europe at the end of the 15th or during the 16th century, the origin, language, and date of the Voynich Manuscript—named after the Polish-American antiquarian bookseller, Wilfrid M. Voynich, who acquired it in 1912—are still being debated as vigorously as its puzzling drawings and undeciphered text. Described as a magical or scientific text, nearly every page contains botanical, figurative, and scientific drawings of a provincial but lively character, drawn in ink with vibrant washes in various shades of green, brown, yellow, blue, and red. Based on the subject matter of the drawings, the contents of the manuscript falls into six sections: 1) botanicals containing drawings of 113 unidentified plant species; 2) astronomical and astrological drawings including astral charts with radiating circles, suns and moons, Zodiac symbols such as fish (Pisces), a bull (Taurus), and an archer (Sagittarius), nude females emerging from pipes or chimneys, and courtly figures; 3) a biological section containing a myriad of drawings of miniature female nudes, most with swelled abdomens, immersed or wading in fluids and oddly interacting with interconnecting tubes and capsules; 4) an elaborate array of nine cosmological medallions, many drawn across several folded folios and depicting possible geographical forms; 5) pharmaceutical drawings of over 100 different species of medicinal herbs and roots portrayed with jars or vessels in red, blue, or green, and 6) continuous pages of text, possibly recipes, with star-like flowers marking each entry in the margins. To read about the latest Voynich discoveries, check here.
One of the country's most unique libraries. This place is absolutely exquisite. They say that there is security in place to air seal the entire books chamber if a fire were to break out (and I'm 99% sure it's true). The beautiful marble that encases the building sends a warm glow into the space. Even if you're not into the books, Beinecke is an architectural feat. Check the hours here, but more importantly make an afternoon and try to catch one of the Yale symphony's amazing concerts in the space. It's got famous acoustics to match the incredibly rare books. To see a specific book contact them first.
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Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Mon - Thu: 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
- Fri: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Sat: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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