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Special Collections Exhibitions

The University of Maryland Libraries researches, curates, and designs unique exhibitions each year featuring special collections materials in a variety of locations and formats.

  • Major gallery exhibitions on annual display can be found in University Libraries' galleries across campus, including Hornbake Library and the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library.
  • Reading room exhibitions are smaller rotating installations featured in the reading rooms of some libraries.
  • Virtual exhibitions, including digital versions of current and past physical exhibitions and unique virtual-only exhibitions, are accessible 24/7 from anywhere in the world at exhibitions.lib.umd.edu

open book of the Knighte's Tale with a unicorn crest illustration

Reading Room Exhibitions

Explore the Special Collections and University Archives blog to learn about current small exhibitions on display.

graphic for the Rising Up: 100 Years of Student Activism for Justice and Civil Rights at the University of Maryland featuring a group including a young black man with a raised fist

Virtual Exhibitions

Browse our diverse online exhibitions.


Current Gallery Exhibitions

Hornbake Library Gallery

Rising Up JPG

Hornbake Library, Room 1202

Rising Up: 100 Years of Student Activism for Justice and Civil Rights at the University of Maryland

In 2020, the world witnessed a trans-continental racial reckoning after the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. According to the Harvard Kennedy Carr Center, these protests saw 15 million to 26 million participants. Students from all over the country, including students from the University of Maryland, were part of the protests and demonstrations that demanded justice and equity within our nation's political, judicial, and academic systems.

This exhibition is inspired by the uprising in 2020 and the long history of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion at the University of Maryland. The exhibition centers the student activism and social movements of historically marginalized communities and their fight for civil rights including African American, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, Latinx, and Asian American students, advocates for women's rights, and students in the undocumented community. Drawing on records from over one hundred years, we piece together stories of students disrupting the status quo and demanding a more inclusive and equitable community.


Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library Gallery

Indelible Ephemera exhibit logo

Perfoming Arts Library, Room 1510

Indelible Ephemera: Posters and Fliers from Special Collections in Performing Arts

An audience’s initial interaction a with a concert, a new play, or a choreographer’s new dance piece does not always occur when performers first take the stage. Promotional posters and fliers—affixed to bare walls, stapled to telephone poles, or handed out on the street—are often the first point of contact between an artistic work and audience members. In an 8 ½” x 11” leaflet or a 27” x 40” poster, graphic designers distill the core of a new work in letterform and illustration.

Indelible Ephemera celebrates these promotional materials, which were intended for short-term use but live on as artifacts of a performance, rich with enduring informational value. The exhibit highlights notable posters and fliers from the worlds of dance, theatre, popular music, and punk rock. All materials are drawn from Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA) at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library.

Rarely-seen works are displayed from notable, D.C.-rooted artists like Lou Stovall, Lloyd McNeill, and Paul Reed. These works are examples of how, for many artists, designing performing arts posters was an important part of their careers, despite the work’s functional purpose. Indelible Ephemeravent  reconsiders poster design not as separate from the creative event it promoted, but as an integral point of contact between audience and performer.

This exhibit runs through August 2024.


Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Room

Boden Sandstrom exhibit

Performing Arts Library, Room 1517

Boden Sandstrom: Cultivating Music, Community, and Feminism

Trail blazing sound engineer, key element of the DC Women’s Music scene, activist, librarian, and ethnomusicologist, Dr. Boden Sandstrom has worked throughout her life with diligence and intent towards justice. Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA) at the University of Maryland is excited to announce our new exhibit highlighting the impact of Dr. Sandstrom’s career, Boden Sandstrom: Cultivating Music, Community, and Feminism. On display in the Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Reading Room of SCPA within the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, this exhibit uses photographs, recordings, documents and more to showcase the far-reaching impact of Dr. Sandstrom’s life and work.

Boden Sandstrom: Cultivating Music, Community, and Feminism documents Dr. Sandstrom’s experience as a member and documentarian of the lesbian music scene in Washington, D.C. Beginning with the establishment of her sound mixing company Woman Sound Inc. (which ultimately became City Sound Productions Inc.), and concluding with her work for UMD both with audio technology and in ethnomusicology, this exhibit will show her transformation from practitioner to teacher and academic, while chronicling the local communities she touched through her work and passion.

This exhibit runs through spring 2024.


The Katherine Anne Porter Room

Photograph of one side of the Katherine Anne Porter soon with bookshelves, a couch, an oriental rug, and a portrait of Porter

Hornbake Library, Room 1218

Permanent Exhibition

The Katherine Anne Porter Room was established by the University of Maryland in appreciation of the generosity and interest of this distinguished American author. From that time until ill health prevented it, Porter came often to this room to work on her papers. She thought of it as a place where individuals could "view and enjoy her library and furnishings" in an atmosphere that reflected her personal taste and style. Today, this room serves as a permanent exhibition and is open to all visitors and free of cost.

More about the Porter Room

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