Event—Adult Education

The Book No One Can Read: Revisiting the Voynich Codex


The 15th-century Voynich Manuscript continues to elude researchers to this day.

A page from the mysterious Voynich manuscript, courtesy of Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Source: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Class Description

Since its rediscovery in 1912—including a brief period on display at Chicago’s Art Institute—the Voynich Manuscript or, as it is also known, the Voynich Codex, has defied all attempts to decipher its unknown script and unusual color illustrations. 

The codex parchment has been radiocarbon-dated to the early 15th century, but its authorship, place of origin, detailed early provenance, and meaning continue to elude researchers. Who created its enigmatic text? What do the curious illustrations represent? Is the codex a medieval hoax or purposeful collection of knowledge? 

Previously offered in 2018, this class will review and update efforts to understand what has been called “the world’s most mysterious book.”

Lee Minnerly, MA in Anthropology and independent scholar, has taught classes at the Newberry on archaeology, cultural astronomy, early science fiction, and the plurality of worlds. He is a former longtime volunteer at the Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy, Adler Planetarium.

Materials List

First Reading

Cost and Registration

One Session, $137 ($124 for Newberry members, seniors, and students). Learn about becoming a member.

To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.


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