Collecting Imagination at Cornell University Library

Contact: Gwen Glazer
Phone: (607) 254-8390
E-mail: gglazer[at]

Collecting Imagination at Cornell University Library
First Public Viewing for Iconic Items from the Walker Library of Human Imagination

ITHACA, N.Y. (May 31, 2012) — Synchronicity, amalgamation, fusion, juxtaposition… unexpected combinations of fascinating artifacts are the name of the game for Cornell University Library’s newest exhibition.

It marks the first time an extensive selection of objects from a unique private collection — the Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination— will be on public view.  Jay Walker ’77, who built the Walker Library and assembled its collection, is the curator of TEDMED, chairman of Walker Digital and founder of

Among the items on display:

  • Sputnik: An original satellite just like the one the Soviets launched into space in 1957. Seven Sputniks were made, and Walker’s is one of the original seven.
  • Vanguard: The American answer to Sputnik. Walker’s Vanguard satellite was made from surviving parts of the U.S. satellite, which blew up on the launch pad in December 1957.
  • An Enigma. Machines like these enciphered and deciphered secret messages, and were most notably used by the German government in WWII.
  • An original copy of Robert Hooke’s “Micrographia.” This 1665 book contains drawings of items that Hooke saw through his microscope, providing the public its first close-up views of such wonders as a fly’s eye. The book contained the first biological use of the word “cell,” applied because microscopic pores in cork reminded Hooke of monks’ rooms.
  • A wide array of rare books, like an early 16th-century illuminated Book of Hours, a Nuremberg chronicle and early astronomy and medical texts.
  • A facsimile of the original 1776 Declaration of Independence at Tompkins County Public Library in downtown Ithaca. It is one of two known copies made directly from the original.

Walker will deliver the opening lecture at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 7, in Milstein Auditorium on Cornell’s Ithaca campus. The exhibition opens at 5:30 p.m. in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Kroch Library.

It runs through October, and satellite exhibitions will also be installed in Day Hall, the Johnson Museum, Mann Library and the Tompkins County Public Library.

About Cornell University Library
Learn more about the Library and take a virtual tour of the Walker Library of Human Imagination.

Iconic items from the Walker Library of Human Imagination are on display in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections