The Idea of the Library
Brera Plus
05.05 2022 - 02.07 2022
Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, Sala Maria Teresa

The Idea of the Library

Umberto Eco’s collection of old books at the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense.

The exhibition

At the Braidense an exhibition on Umberto Eco’s books from the 1300 texts acquired thanks to the support of the Ministry of Culture.
From May 5 to July 2, 2022, the Braidense Library presented “The Library Idea. Umberto Eco’s collection of antique books at the Braidense National Library,” an exhibition that displayed for the first time to the public a selection of antique volumes acquired by the Ministry of Culture from the Eco family in 2018.

CLICK HERE to go through the exhibition in a virtual reconstruction of the exhibition route.

At the same time in the Library, the “Studiolo,” a space available to scholars, was inaugurated, where all 1,300 rare titles, including 36 incunabula, books printed before 1500, from the Bibliotheca semiologica, curiosa, lunatica, magica et pneumatica as the great intellectual called it, will be preserved. The “Studiolo” preserves as much as possible the placement of the books that Umberto Eco had ordered in his house overlooking the Castello Sforzesco in Milan.

Studiolo di Umberto Eco

Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, “Studiolo” di Umberto Eco

The exhibition celebrated the very important acquisition of Umberto Eco’s ancient volumes by the Braidense, which is now realized by complementing the library’s existing collections, starting with those concerning works from the 15th and 16th centuries. Also in keeping with the wishes of Umberto Eco and his family, his vast collection of more than 35,000 modern books and archive will be on loan for use to the University of Bologna Alma Mater Studiorum.

L’idea della Biblioteca

La mostra "L’idea della Biblioteca" nella Sala Maria Teresa della Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense

The exhibition displayed 82 volumes, including 62 from the Umberto Eco Book Fund, 19 from the Biblioteca Braidense collection, and 1 from The Warburg Institute. Each display case investigated an aspect of Umberto Eco’s intense relationship with old and rare books. As a sign of Eco’s global importance, and of the intellectual debt he owed to the international community, exceptionally the exhibition included important loans from the Warburg Institute in London and curated by its director, Bill Sherman.

The Idea of the Library

The exhibition continues on BreraPLUS, the online channel that enriches the Braidense Library and Pinacoteca di Brera experience with multimedia content, special programs, concerts, premieres, and more.


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