Event—Public Programming

Melville: Finding America at Sea

"Melville: Finding America at Sea" is a free exhibition at the Newberry Library. The show traces the arc of Herman Melville's life and afterlife through items such as first editions of Moby Dick, rare copies of Melville's poetry, and a boatload of modern adaptations of the author's work.


View the checklist of items that were on display during this exhibition.

For the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birth, this exhibition will highlight the many facets of his work, illustrating how he has been perceived and repurposed over the past 200 years.

Drawing on the Newberry’s huge collection of Melville’s works, gathered during the work of editing the definitive 15-volume Northwestern-Newberry Edition of The Writings of Herman Melville, the exhibition will invite viewers to explore Melville’s interests in democracy, spirituality, Indigeneity, morality, sexuality, labor, nature, and human consciousness. It will contextualize his works as the product of a period of spectacular growth, rapid change, horrifying trauma, and grave injustice in the United States, and also demonstrate the ways his work continues to resonate for artists and writers today.

Melville: Finding America at Sea is curated by Will Hansen, the Newberry's Curator of Americana, and is sponsored by Elizabeth Amy Liebman and The Gladys Kreible Delmas Foundation.

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The Newberry is offering docent-led tours of the exhibition every Saturday at 2 pm. These tours are free to attend, and no reservations are required.

Private tours can be arranged for groups of 10 or more, during exhibition hours, based on staff and docent availability. Please schedule a private tour at least two weeks in advance; contact Rebecca Haynes, Manager of Volunteers, at haynesr@newberry.org or (312) 255-3526.