Jean and Alexander Heard Library | Vanderbilt University
419 21st Avenue South | Nashville, TN 37203-2427
(615) 322-2807 |


About Us General Information Hours & Holiday Closings Directions & Parking Information Contact Us Staff

Collections Books Manuscripts Memorabilia University Archives Photographic Archives DiscoverArchive Digital Collections

Research Finding Material Research Guides Getting Help

Policies & Services Policies Services

Faculty Services

Online Exhibits

Digital Collections Vanderbilt History Peabody History Fugitives & Agrarians Online Exhibits


Current Exhibits

Book as Art: Beautiful Books
Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries Gallery
Special Collections and University Archives Library
Divinity Library
Peabody Library
Martha Rivers Ingram Center for the Performing Arts

Book as Art illustration


A beautiful book is a portable work of art — matchless and magical.  Before the age of printing, bookmaking was a laborious process, requiring hours of the scribes’ handiwork and the artistic skills of the binder.  The resulting exquisite objects were valued for their form as well as their function by their owners, as evidenced by examples that remain today, passed down through generations of loving hands. These stunning volumes bear the marks of their makers in ways no mass-produced paperback can achieve.


Book as Art illustration

Drawn from the library’s over 3.5 million volumes, “The Book as Art” offers a dazzling display of fine books from nine centuries of bookmaking — from the unidentified scribes’ illuminated manuscripts to today’s internationally-recognized artists’ books.   Viewers will examine the richness of visual form in a 13th century Latin manuscript on vellum illustrated with gold leaf and brilliant colors, tooled bindings encrusted with jewels, and covers inset with ivory miniatures, as well as contemporary artists’ books that leap beyond traditional book form.  These unconventional volumes, gathered from the world’s fine presses, demonstrate the attention to text, image, paper, typography and binding that characterizes all truly beautiful books.


Read about the grand opening on MyVU.

Louisa May Alcott
Peabody Library

Louisa May Alcott


The "Louisa May Alcott" exhibit is on permanent display on the third floor of the Peabody Library. Material donated by Peabody alumna Jane Roller Sights forms the basis of this collection. On exhibit are first edition prints of Alcott's books, ephemera from Alcott's home, personal correspondence and handwritten verses.

For more information, contact Peabody Library.