Featured Exhibitions

Gods and Scholars


Gods and Scholars: Studying Religion at a Secular University

October 22, 2015 - March 7, 2016

From its founding in 1865, Cornell University has been firmly nonsectarian, welcoming students and faculty of any religion, or no religion. This approach — controversial for its time — did not exclude religion from campus life; on the contrary, as its library collections rapidly grew, the new university sought out religious works of all types and eras. By the time the first incoming class arrived in 1868, instructors and students could access a vast array of sacred works. These materials supported courses on topics from philology, art, and architecture, to anthropology, world history, and the history of printing. This exhibition highlights some of the most significant religious texts owned by Cornell, including manuscripts from the Witchcraft Collection, an Egyptian funerary papyrus, Native American prayer books, illuminated Qurans, the Book of Mormon, and Buddhist palm-leaf manuscripts..

Lincoln's Unfinished Work Exhibition


Lincoln’s Unfinished Work

January 20 – September 30, 2015

On January 31, 1865 the United States Congress passed the 13th Amendment, ending slavery in America. President Lincoln would not live to see the final ratification of the Amendment. He was assassinated on April 14 and a shocked nation mourned his death.

Cornell University Library marks the 150th anniversary of these historic events with an exhibition featuring Cornell’s manuscript of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution—one of only 14 copies signed by Lincoln—together with other rare documents and artifacts associated with Lincoln’s funeral.

Def Jam at 30 Exhibition


Def Jam at 30: The Declarations of an Independent - 1984-1985

2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of Def Jam Recordings. Now a long-established American brand, hailed as “the New York Yankees of hip-hop,” Def Jam has consistently fielded a Hall of Fame roster of artists. In the Eighties, that roster included LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, and 3rd Bass. In the Nineties, it included Method Man, Jay-Z, Ja Rule, Ludacris, and DMX. In the 21st Century, it includes Kanye West, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, and Rihanna. Thirty years later, the label’s still going strong.

In celebration of this anniversary, the Cornell University Hip Hop Collection offers this look at 1984-85: Def Jam’s ground-breaking first year, told through rare and unique items from Bill Adler’s Hip Hop Archive.

More Online Exhibitions

For a complete listing of our exhibitions available online, please see Online Exhibitions.