‘Beyond a Text’: New exhibit documents creation of the book

The Quayle Bible Collection’s new exhibit entitled “Beyond a Text: The Life of Scripture Outside of the Words” showcases the Bible’s role in creation of the physical book.

Since the exhibit focuses on the book itself, many of the display cases show the evolution of writing from cuneiform tablets to Bibles acting has family trees.

Associate Professor of Religious Studies Nicholaus Pumphrey, is the curator of the Quayle Bible Collection and chose the topic “Beyond the Text”.

“I like the fact that it concentrates on the physical aspect of the book and its history,” Pumphrey said.

While the primary focus is on the evolution of the physical text, the exhibit also talks about the switch from physical books to eBooks.

“When more and more texts are read digitally, the history of how books became books will be thought about even less,” Pumphrey said, “Part of the exhibit talks about how texts, words, and what we write on become less physical, and more digital texts and eBooks are the next stage in the evolution.”

Pumphrey designs the Quayle Bible exhibits two ways. The first method involves a general idea being formed, the display case ideas are brainstormed and research is done to find the text which best highlights a display’s idea. The other way involves researching texts and coming up with an overall idea.

While most of the work in preparing the exhibit happened this past spring semester, Pumphrey spends June to work on the exhibit. It took roughly a month to prepare the whole exhibit.

Though Pumphrey primarily put the exhibit together, two student workers also assisted him in setting up displays.

Senior Mary Tungsten has worked in the Quayle Bible Collection since 2016. Though she did not help create any of the displays, she assisted by revising and hanging the posters, organize the cases, and edit the writing in the pamphlets.

The work Tungsten puts into preparing and working for the Quayle Bible Collection assists her in her career goals.

“It’s important for me to work with exhibits since I’ll be going to grad school for Museum Studies.” Tungsten said.

Senior Blythe Smith also worked in organizing “Beyond a Text” and has been employed at the Quayle for two years.

Smith helped pick the texts that would be featured in the displays and worked to organize cases 7, 8 and 10 with the supervision of Pumphrey.

All items on display are from the Quayle Bible Collection. While loaned items have been used in the past, but since Pumphrey became curator no items have been loaned.

The exhibit will run from Sept. 9 to May 20, 2019 and will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.