VISIT & explore

Tales and Treasures

The Sterling Morton Library is turning 50! To celebrate, the library is launching a new exhibit titled Tales and Treasures, showcasing 50 rare and unique objects from the library’s collections. Each treasure has a unique, unfamiliar, or special tale to tell. In addition to rare books, the artifacts include a collection of butterflies that is more than 100 years old, an Eskimo bone carving, original woodblocks, and metal sculptures, plus documents about the founding and creation of the Arboretum by Joy Morton in 1922.

The exhibit invites you to explore a modern cabinet of curiosities, with drawers that pull out and doors that open to reveal objects and interactive games. Using a touch screen, you will be able to virtually page through a selection of books that are too fragile to be on display, including a sketchbook by May T. Watts. Plus, you can share with us what you imagine a library to be 50 years from now.
Then, take part in a library-wide scavenger hunt that aims to bring visitors into the Reading Room designed by Harry Weese, with its timeless curved walls, as well as the May T. Watts Reading Garden, with its espaliered trees planted in 1963.
The exhibit extends beyond the library walls and into the Arboretum’s grounds. Keep an eye out for signs with QR codes. You will be able to look at the view today, and then, by scanning the QR code with your smartphone, see a photo of what that same view looked like 50 years ago.
“We know from his letters that Joy Morton was very purposeful about building a library,” says Rita Hassert, library collections manager. “Here at the Arboretum, our focus on trees extends to sharing knowledge and information as a way to help create a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world.”
Tales and Treasures opens March 15 and will be on display during regular library hours through the end of the year. This exhibit is free with Arboretum admission.