Special Collections maintains both permanent and rotating exhibits within the department as well as the art displayed throughout the library. There is also a small exhibit case on the first floor of the library that houses rotating exhibits. The Exhibit Room can be accessed whenever Special Collections is open and the public is encouraged to browse our exhibits.

We encourage tour groups and classes to view the exhibits, although it is best to schedule your visit in advance.

Permanent Exhibits

Permanent exhibits on Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Robert Francis are a featured part of the Special Collections department.
Exploring Special Collections Exhibits at the Frost Birthday Celebration

Rotating Exhibits

Every 2-3 months, a new exhibit is displayed in Special Collections. Rotating exhibits are also sometimes mounted in other areas of the library.

Currently on Display in Special Collections

Let Us Consider Walden
An exhibit exploring Henry David Thoreau's influence on Amherst-area writers, Clifton Johnson and Robert Francis.

Spotlight Exhibit

One Soldier's Story: Richard Carpenter in World War I
A display of photographs and memorabilia from Richard Carpenter (1896-1935), who served in World War I.

Currently on Display in Reference

Highways & Byways of the South: Photographs by Clifton Johnson

A writer, illustrator, and photographer from Hadley, Clifton Johnson traveled to the American South between 1901 and 1902 to capture images and stories as part of his Highways & Byways series. The photographs on display are selections from those he took during his travels and give the viewer an intimate glimpse into the difficult conditions that poor black Southerners faced alongside the familiar connections of children and family life.

Previous Exhibits

Greetings from Amherst! The Edgar Scott Picture Postcard Collection
(April-May 2017)
An exhibit featuring views of Amherst by Edgar Scott, including several hand-colored postcards. Learn about Edgar Scott and photograph editing before the use of Photoshop or computers.
Charles Eastman: Resistance Through Story Telling
(November 2016-January 2017)

An exhibit about Native American author and activist, Charles Eastman, examining the importance of personal narratives in the telling of history. Designed by Hampshire College student Onea Engel-Bradley.

For my friend W.R. Brown: Robert Frost's best friendship in Amherst (or anywhere) (September-October 2016)

“For my friend W. R. Brown” starts one inscription from Robert Frost in a 1923 copy of his book New Hampshire. This is just one of the notes between poet Robert Frost and Warren R. Brown, an Amherst businessman and writer, over their many years as friends that are currently on display. This exhibit focuses on one of Frost’s “best friends in Amherst (or anywhere)” and features letters, Christmas cards, and books recently donated by the Brown family.

Ruth Payne Burgess: Sketches of her Life
(July-August 2016)
Learn about the life of artist Ruth Payne Burgess. Now online on Digital Amherst

In the Catskills (May-June 2016)
A Photographic Journey through the Catskills with John Burroughs and Clifton Johnson. Now online on Digital Amherst

Who is David Grayson? (March-April 2016)
Grayson wrote popular essays about his simple farm life. For years no one knew who was behind the pseudonym. One hundred years ago his identity was revealed. This exhibit showcases that moment in history with fan letters, newspaper articles, photographs, and books. Now online on Digital Amherst

Love and Courtship by Mail
(January-February 2016)
This exhibit featured love, proposal, and rejection letters as well as historical Valentine's Day cards. It also included love letters written by a young Robert Frost. Now online on Digital Amherst

Online Exhibits

View our online exhibits in Digital Amherst

Fine Arts Collection

Much of our Fine Arts Collection is on display throughout the library, including paintings, bronze sculptures, and decorative objects.