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May 23, 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the New York Public Library's landmark building, the Stephen A. Schwarzman building.  To commemorate the occasion, the Library has put together a major exhibition entitled "Celebrating 100 Years", which opened this past weekend.  The exhibit displays 250 items chosen from the Library's vast collection of over 60 million pieces, and is divided into four thematic areas- Observation, Contemplation, Creativity, and Society. Thomas Millens, the Library's curator, commented that "the library as nothing less than a memory bank of humanity", and expanded upon the exhibition's themes.  "Observation, looking out to the world around us; contemplation, looking inward for meaning, the hallmark of civilization and the human experience; creativity, particularly as expressed in literature and the arts … and society, the way in which we have organized ourselves for better or for worse,” explained Millens.  These groupings are "meant to highlight the collections' scope and their value as symbols in our collective memory", as well as display the changing ways in which we communicate and create records, from cunieform to computers. Some highlights of the exhibition include Sumerian cunieform tablets, the first Gutenberg Bible to come to America, a Tale of Genji scroll, one of Malcom X's journals, Virginia Woolf's walking stick, and John Coltrane's handwritten score of Lover Man, just to name a few. To read the exhibition brochure, click here. To celebrate the actual anniversary date, the NYPL will hold a free festival this weekend, May 21-22, 2011.  There will be free performances, workshops and programs for adults and children, free tours of building and stacks, and much more (including free ice cream!).  For more information, click here. "Celebrating 100 Years" will be on display in the Gottesman Exhibition Hall at the Stephen A. Schwarzmann Building, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, until December 31. UPDATE: I attended the festival this past Saturday and it was lovely.  It was well attended and I was refreshed to see so many families and younger faces there.  I was very disappointed that I was unable to tour the stacks (apparently tickets 'sold out' fairly quickly), but I enjoyed the exhibit immensely.  Kudos to Mr. Millens for all his hard work, he put together a wonderful display.  If you are in NYC before the end of the year, I strongly recommend a visit!

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