The Moving Magic: Movable Books in the Rare Books Collections exhibition highlights different examples of movable and pop-up books in the Library’s Rare Book Collection. Various types of these books displayed in the exhibition illustrate the history of the movable book.
Though many consider pop-up books to be for children, books with moving parts have been around for centuries and encompass all genres. The Rare Book Collection includes 16th-century spinning wheels known as volvelles, 19th-century medical books with flaps, Victorian tunnel books, and books by the famous paper engineer and children’s book author Lothar Meggendorfer.
Paper engineers must construct movable books by hand due to the delicate nature of paper. Even today, with all the available technology, moving parts must be assembled by hand to ensure that they work correctly.
The Rare Book Collections contain movable books and cards from the 15th century to the present, most notably in the Skip & Bob Smith Pop-Up Book Collection, Dr. Susan W. Schwartz Pop-Up Book Collection, and the Biedermeier Greeting Card Collection. These collections show the breadth of movable books, the variety of mechanisms that create movement, and that movable books are fun for all ages.
This exhibition was organized by the Curator of the Rare Book Collection, Cassie Brand, for Washington University Libraries.