Nature of the Book: A Virtual Tour

Nature of the Book will open on November 11th in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.  To celebrate, we’re taking you on a virtual tour!

The exhibition explores books of the hand-press era through the myriad natural materials – animal, vegetable, and mineral – that went into their making. From essential ingredients like flax, leather, copper, and lead, to the unexpected, like wasps and seaweed, the exhibition shows what the use of these materials can tell us about the book, touching on questions of use, process, global trade, and economy.

Featuring an array of books from our Special Collections, paired with specimens ranging from ochre, azurite, and cotton bolls to silkworm cocoons and wasp nests, Nature of the Book tells a story of both local resources and resourcefulness, and global influence.  During our next online presentation, you’re invited to learn more directly from the book conservators who curated the exhibition.


  • Vanessa Smith, Supervisory Conservator
  • Katie Wagner, Senior Book Conservator

Register via Zoom

We are committed to providing access services so all participants can fully engage in these events. Optional real-time captioning will be provided. If you need other access services, please email Advanced notice is appreciated. This program will also be recorded and made available following the event.