Anna Deavere Smith: What do you think of when you hear the word “treasure”? A cherished heirloom? A precious trinket locked away in a box?
Annemarie van Roessel: A treasure is something that tells a really compelling story, and a story that resonates across generations, across centuries.
Veena Talwar Oldenburg: It’s just captured a moment which really ceased to exist…
Eddie Glaude, Jr.: Wow, I mean, it’s just so exciting. You can kind of have this relationship to concrete representation of history in the making.
Paloma Celis Carbajal: It’s charged with all that energy. And it is the announcement of so many things to come.
Anna Deavere Smith: So what makes a treasure? Perhaps it’s a link to the past, that flash of inspiration, an unexpected connection, or a moment of clarity. Or maybe it’s something more ephemeral, something that defies description.
The New York Public Library is built upon such treasures—great and small. From our branch libraries to our research centers and special collections, the Library holds more than 56 million items. For more than 125 years, we’ve collected and preserved books, manuscripts, audio and visual recordings, and more—making them available to New Yorkers and knowledge-seekers from around the world.
I’m Anna Deavere Smith, and I’d like to welcome you to the Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures. This exhibition offers a view of just a few of our treasures—the tip of the iceberg, really—in the hopes of sparking your curiosity and wonder.
So, what do you treasure? Perhaps you’ll find it here today at The New York Public Library.
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Anna Deavere Smith, host of the Treasures Audio Guide, is an award-winning actress and playwright, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama, and a distinguished teacher and author, who was also honored as a Library Lion in 2014. This track also features the voices of Annemarie van Roessel of The New York Public Library, Dr. Veena Talwar Oldenburg of the City University of New York, Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr., of Princeton University, and Paloma Celis Carbajal of The New York Public Library.