Press Release - Huntington Exhibition Demonstrates How Conservation and High-Tech Imaging Revealed an Ancient Text by Archimedes
“Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes” on view in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery March 15–June 22, 2014
THE HUNTINGTON’S HISTORY OF SCIENCE COLLECTIONS
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens holds an extensive history of science collection, highlights from which are on view in the permanent exhibition “Beautiful Science: Ideas that Changed the World,” adjacent to the Main Exhibition Hall of the Library.
The acquisition of the 67,000-volume Burndy Library in 2006 substantially expanded The Huntington’s holdings in the history of science and technology, making it one of the most important collections in this field in the world.
The Burndy Library, founded by inventor and industrialist Bern Dibner (1897–1988), was the largest library collection to come to The Huntington since Henry E. Huntington’s founding gift to the institution in 1919.
Moreover, it is the nature of the Burndy Library that sets it apart: it consists of an extensive collection in the history of science and technology, with a strong focus on the physical sciences. It comprises important materials from antiquity to the 20th century, with a particular emphasis on 18th-century physics, including collections by and about Isaac Newton, as well as major collections in 18th- and 19th-century mathematics, the history of electricity, civil and structural engineering, optics and color theory, among others. The collection includes such rare treasures as a 1544 edition of Archimedes’ Philosophi ac Geometrae, a first edition of Robert Boyle’s Experiments and notes about the mechanical origin or production of electricity (1675), and the scientific library of Louis Pasteur (1822–1895).
The history of astronomy is perhaps the strongest area. Manuscript material ranges from a copy of Ptolemy’s Almagest from 1279 to nearly a century’s worth of director’s papers from nearby Mt. Wilson Observatory, including correspondence between George Ellery Hale and Albert Einstein, and the papers of Edwin Hubble. The Huntington’s holdings of printed works by Charles Darwin are unsurpassed in the United States, with books supplemented by 68 letters written by Darwin to a variety of contemporaries. One of the Library’s treasures is the double-elephant folio of John James Audubon’s Birds of America (1827–38)—massive in size, with full-color illustrations of birds in their habitats. The Huntington’s history of mathematics includes 39 editions of Euclid’s Elements,which codified two and a half centuries of scientific work on geometry into a single work. Rare material on Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, and Linneaus also are represented.