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Clarke Historical Library Exhibit:
Exhibit Popup.jpg

On exhibit through January 2021
in the Clarke Historical Library 

Celebrating the acquisition of over 600 pop-up books collected by Dr. Francis and Mary Lois Molson, the exhibit documents the delights of pop-up books for children and adults, as well as the very serious work of authors and paper engineers, who make the surprise and wonder occur. What is fascinating about pop-up books is that the person who picks one up becomes director, performer, and audience, controlling a performance engineered for them but completely under their power.

Because of the difficulties in travel and physical access caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have created an extended virtual exhibit that can be enjoyed online which we hope you will explore and enjoy.

Our hope is that you will be able to enjoy the exhibit in person during the library's normal operating hours sometime during the summer or fall of 2020.  However, because of the many uncertainties related to the pandemic, please contact the library staff before visiting to determine if physical access to the exhibit is possible and if it is if there are any limiting conditions that you will need to observe. Speak to us before setting out to see the exhibit either by email ( or by telephone (989.774.3352) to confirm in advance that we can accommodate your visit. Rules make it impossible for us to allow a person or group who arrives unannounced to enter the building or the exhibit area. Please contact us in advance to confirm that you will be able to enjoy the show in person.

Explore the Surprise and Wonder

While movable parts within a book have been a part of book design for centuries, originally they were almost always used in scholarly works and in books for adults. How better to illustrate an anatomy text, for example, than with little tabs, allowing you to see what lay beneath the skin? It was not until the 19th century that these techniques were applied to books that were designed to entertain and delight children. Once children became the audience, the story began to emerge, particularly stories like fairy tales and mythology, as well as adapting stories from the theater.

The main feature of a moveable book is its interactivity. The book's mechanisms cause the content of its pages to transform, engrossing the reader through the element of surprise. Its effects cannot be completely anticipated, and in general, when a good moveable book is opened, each page is like a Christmas present, provoking a sense of wonder.

Imaginative paper engineers continue to explore and to innovate new ways to fold paper, devise complex pull tabs that create movement, design intricate three-dimensional pop-up forms, and use cut paper, string, and other mechanisms to make figures magically twist and turn. The possibilities seem endless. Today, the simple, dynamic quality of the cut paper forms and mechanisms can create books that are a sculptural work of art.

The exhibit was curated by Doctors Gretchen Papazian and Anne Hiebert Alton, both faculty members in CMU's Department of English Language and Literature. Janet Danek, the Libraries' Exhibits, and Projects Coordinator designed the show. Opening on March 17, 2020, the exhibit will run through the fall semester. 

To learn more about the exhibit we encourage you to watch an extended interview with Janet Danek, the exhibit designer.

Clarke Historical Library Speaker Series

Thank you to all who registered and attended the Spring 2021 online Speaker Series events.
Please check back soon for future Speaker Series presentations.

Events are free and open to the public. Those in need of an accommodation

should call (989) 774-1100 or email