Explore the Library's Treasures with Our Experts

By Laurie Beckoff, Digital Editor/Producer
January 31, 2023

The Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures is filled with objects from around the world dating as far back as 4,000 years. In this video series, curators, librarians, and NYPL President Tony Marx discuss some of the extraordinary items in the permanent exhibition and the collections that house them. Listen to the experts explain the significance of these pieces; what makes them treasures; why the Library collects, preserves and displays them; and what else is waiting to be discovered. Explore the exhibition with our digital guide on Bloomberg Connects, the free arts and culture app.

These videos were made with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

'Political Prisoner' with Dalila Scruggs

Dalila Scruggs, Curator of the Photographs and Prints Division at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, talks about Elizabeth Catlett's sculpture Political Prisoner, Catlett‘s life and work, and the Schomburg Center‘s history and holdings.

Winnie-the-Pooh with Charles Cuykendall Carter

Charles Cuykendall Carter, Assistant Curator in the Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, shares how the original Winnie-the-Pooh toys ended up at the Library alongside other beloved pieces of children‘s literature.

The Bill of Rights with Julie Golia

Julie Golia, Associate Director of Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books and Charles J. Liebman Curator of Manuscripts, examines an early copy of the Bill of Rights and more items that document the progress and setbacks of the American experiment.

The Columbus Letter with NYPL President Tony Marx

NYPL President Tony Marx discusses the only surviving copy of Christopher Columbus‘s letter to Luis de Santángel in Spain following his first voyage to the Americas and the value of studying historical documents.

The Works of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz with Paloma Celis Carbajal

Paloma Celis Carbajal, Curator of Latin America, Iberian, and U.S. Latino Collections, discusses Mexican writer Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, whose Segundo Volumen is on view, and other women writers represented in the exhibit, such as African American poet Phillis Wheatley.

The Mapleson Cylinders with Bob Kosovsky

Bob Kosovsky, Librarian in the Music and Recorded Sound Division at the Library for the Performing Arts, shares the history behind Lionel Mapleson‘s early opera recordings on wax cylinders and more of the performance-related items in the Polonsky Exhibition.

'The Birds of America' with Meredith Mann

Librarian of Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Meredith Mann tells the story behind John James Audubon‘s massive tome The Birds of America and other rare volumes on display.

'Astronomicum Caesareum' with Ian Fowler

Maps, History, and Government Information Curator Ian Fowler explores the lavishly designed Astronomicum Caesareum and some of the other cartographical wonders in the exhibition.

Visit the Polonsky Exhibition to see these items and more, on view at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. To delve deeper into the collections, start your research by searching the catalog or making an appointment with a librarian.