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Special Collections Exhibitions

This page has information about the current exhibition as well as previous exhibitions. Many of the previous exhibitions are online.

Current exhibition

'1869: The Year That Was'

1869 poster

On 3 June 1869, the University of Otago Ordinance 1869 became law. This meant that the newly established University became a corporate body with power to grant degrees. This was a significant first for New Zealand. Two years later, with a building secured, and three professors appointed, classes began. The first class was on 10 July 1871, with 81 students enrolled.

The University of Otago’s rich history continues today. Its establishment and legacy form part of the current exhibition 1869 The Year That Was, which begins on 20 September 2019 at the de Beer Gallery, Special Collections, 1st floor, Central University Library.

Of course, other events occurred in 1869. While the University Council were debating the administrational matters necessary to make the newly formed educational institution work, events were occurring on a local and international level. Each had their own particular impact.

Some of the events of 1869 that feature in the exhibition include the formation of the Otago Institute; the first Fine Arts Exhibition in New Zealand; the first ‘Royal’ visit to New Zealand; the introduction of the New Zealand Cross; the births of Rasputin, Emma Goldman, and Gandhi; the opening of the Suez Canal; and the formation of Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleev’s periodic table. Tolstoy’s War and Peace was published in 1869, as was Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

Everyone is welcome to come and visit the exhibition. We are open Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm.

Dates: 20 September 2019 – 31 January 2020
Venue: de Beer gallery, Special Collections, University of Otago
Contact: Dr Donald Kerr, Special Collections Librarian
Email donald.kerr@otago.ac.nz;
Tel: +64 3 479 8330

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Past exhibitions

21 June - 13 September 2019
The Female of the Species: A Celebration of Women in History
22 March - 7 June 2019
For the love of books: Collectors and Collections
14 December 2018 - 15 March 2019
Medical Marvels: Treasures from the Health Sciences Library
7 September 2018 - 7 December 2018
Auld Acquaintances: Celebrating the Robert Burns Fellowship
15 June - 31 August 2018
All the Year Round: Exploring the Nineteenth-Century Periodical
16 March - 1 June 2018
A Middle Eastern Odyssey: Constantinople to Palmyra
15 December - 9 March 2018
Moving to the Left: The Art and Development of the Frontispiece
15 September - 8 December 2017
Parlez-vous français? Celebrating France & the French
16 June - 8 September
Intrepid Journeys: Travelling with the Hakluyt Society
24 March - 9 June 2017
500 Years On. Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation
9 December 2016 - 17 March 2017
Keeping it in the Family: British and Irish Literary Generations, 1770-1930
1 September 2016 - 2 December 2016
A Letterpress Legacy: The Dartmouth College Book Arts Workshop
10 June 2016 - 26 August 2016
Scholarly Favourites. Researching in Special Collections Exhibition, University of Otago
11 March 2016 - 3 June 2016
Fashion Rules OK
11 December 2015 - 4 March 2016
By Land and By Sea: Scientific Expedition Reports in Special Collections from 1826 to the 1960s
28 August - 27 November 2015
The Melrose Library: Reflecting the Life and Works of Sir F. Truby King
5 June - 21 August 2015
Black + White + Grey. The Lives + Works of Eric Gill + Robert Gibbings
12 March - 29 May 2015
Aliens, Androids & Unicorns. The Hal Salive Science Fiction and Fantasy Collection
17 December - 23 March 2014
The World of Joseph W. Mellor (1869-1938)
11 September - 5 December 2014
Celebrating Botany (1924-2014)
11 June - 5 September 2014
Viva l'Italia. A Regional Romp through Italy
21 March - 23 May 2014
Make It New! Modernism & the Medieval Presence
20 December 2013 - 14 March 2014
Rare Delights III. Recent Additions to Special Collections
27 September - 13 December 2013
Reaching Out: Celebrating 100 years of Otago Physiotherapy Graduates
28 June - 20 September 2013
Maths, Politics and Concrete: The Legacy of the Classical World
5 April - 25 June 2013
Celebrating Pharmacy
20 December 2012 - 22 March 2013
From Pigskin to Paper: The Art and Craft of Bookbinding
21 September - 13 December 2012
Celebrating Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
22 June - 14 September 2012
Charting the Land on the Ocean: Pacific Exploration, 1520-1876
23 March - 15 June 2012
Ray Guns & Rocket Ships. The Fred Fastier Science Fiction Collection
21 December 2011 to 16 March 2012
The Gentleman's Magazine: The 18th century answer to Google
30 September - 16 December 2011
In Search of Scotland
1 July - 23 September 2011
Experimental Philosophy: old and new
1 April - 17 June 2011
Forging a Magical Landscape: The Works of Robert Graves, Poet
17 December 2010 - 25 March 2011
Faces of Authorship: Constructing the Author in Medieval and Early Modern Books
27 August to 10 December 2010
Pulp Fiction
14 May - 20 August
ALL ABOARD! The Ernie Webber Railway Collection
8 February - 7 May
Footnotes on Official History: Celebrating Dr Hocken's Pamphlet Collection
30 October 2009 - 29 January 2010
Heresy, Sedition, Obscenity: The Book Challenged
13 July - 23 October 2009
'I sat down in the evening to read...' Books from the Library of Charles Brasch, Poet, 1909-1973
8 April - 3 July 2009
Beetles, Barnacles, Orchids, and the Origin of Species: Charles Darwin and His Legacy
19 December 2008 - 27 March 2009
A Record of Achievement: The 50th Birthday of the Otago University Press
29 August - 12 December 2008
Nourishing the Roots: an exhibition celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Robert Burns Fellowship at the University of Otago
5 May - 22 August 2008
Éire á Móradh: Singing the Praises of Ireland
25 February - 25 April 2008
Rare Delights II: Recent Additions to Special Collections
20 December 2007 - 1 February 2008
RETROSPECTIVE: A look back at the last 21 Special Collections exhibitions
17 October to 14 December 2007
Initials: In the Beginning...
6 July to 28 September 2007
Linnaeus, Prince of Botanists: His Works and Legacy
11 April to 29 June 2007
A Quick Stab at the Eighteenth Century
12 December 2006 - 30 March 2007
Master of the Burin: the book illustrations of John Buckland Wright, 1897-1954
4 September - 1 December 2006
In the Flesh. The Monro Dynasty 1720-1846.
1 June - 25 August 2006
The Black Art: Hand-printing in the Bibliography Room, 1961-2005
10 February - 26 May 2006
West Meets East: Images of China and Japan, 1570 to 1920
17 October 2005 - 27 January 2006
Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass
11 July - 23 September 2005
The Word on Modernism: How Books Aided a Revolution in Design
11 April - 24 June 2005
"£100 & a butt of sack yearly" The office of the poet laureate
20 December 2004 - 31 March 2005
Straight Jackets: the Art of the Book Jacket
20 September - 10 December 2004
'A Civilising Mission' : New Zealanders and the Rhodes Scholarship 1904 - 2004
24 June - 10 September 2004
41 Stunning Books: A selection of modern private press books
23 March - 11 June 2004
Glimpses of London's Past
25 November 2003 - 12 March 2004
He tirohanga ki muri ~ A view of the past
4 July - 17 November 2003
Harmonizing my starting place: Charles Brasch, patron, poet and collector
21 March - 27 June 2003
Cultivating Gardens: Practical garden advice through the ages
13 December 2002 - 13 March 2003
Rare Delights: recent additions to Special Collections
12 September - 28 November 2002
Unpacking Ruins: architecture from antiquity
21 June - 1 September 2002
Enlarging the prospects of happiness: European travel writing through the ages
21 March - 13 June 2002
Portrait of a gentleman scholar: celebrating the life and legacy of Esmond de Beer

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Exhibition gallery location

Exhibitions are mounted in: The de Beer Gallery
First Floor
Central Library
65 Albany Street
Dunedin

Open 8.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Monday to Friday
Contact the Special Collections Librarian for enquiries and consultations.

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