New York Public Library Childhood Winnie And Friends Photo: Robert-Kato
Childhood Winnie And Friends Photo: Robert-Kato

NY Library Exhibit Includes Declaration of Independence Draft

The diverse collection also features such rare treasures as Virginia Woolf’s walking stick.

The New York Public Library has just opened its first permanent show, the Polansky Exhibition of the New York Public Library’s Treasures, thanks to a $12 million gift from philanthropist Leonard Polansky. The library has 45 million artifacts covering 4,000 years of history, and the exhibition will showcase 250 of its rarest items. 

Highlights include Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence, created between July 4 and 10, 1776; the 1789 handwritten Bill of Rights; a wax cylinder with recordings of “Toreador Song” from Bizet’s opera Carmen; Virginia Woolf’s walking stick; five stuffed toy animals that belonged to the real Christopher Robin; Arturo Toscanini’s batons; a Coco Chanel hand-painted ballet slipper; and a lock of Beethoven’s hair. Also on display are Charles Dickens’s writing desk and chair; Shakespeare’s First Folio; and manuscripts by such authors as Vladimir Nabokov, James Baldwin, and Tom Wolfe. Among other priceless items is a 1455 Gutenberg Bible.

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The Alabama facility presents an immersive history of slave trade in America, the Jim Crow era, and modern mass incarceration.

The exhibit is permanent and free to the public, but visitors must reserve timed tickets. Audio guides in English and Spanish are available via your mobile device (bring headphones or earpods). Masks are mandatory.