Peabody Library

The Peabody Library is the 19th-century focused research library of The Johns Hopkins University. Basically, it's a rare book library. Neo-Greco interior features an atrium that, over an alternating black and white slab marble floor, soars 61 feet high to a latticed skylight of frosted heavy glass, surrounded by five tiers of ornamental black cast-iron balconies and gold-scalloped columns containing closely packed book stacks.

I visited by accident. I was on my way to the Walter Art Museum around the corner and walked in. And gaped at the beauty of the library for a couple minutes. I noticed a group of folks clustered around a member of the library staff. I joined the group thinking they were tourists. Turned out to be visiting academics. Whoops. Which was fine. Until they took us to the off limits rare book room. And let me tell you. The rare book room in a rare book library is... impressive.

I managed to fake a cover by translating a couple book covers for others from German. Note, I didn't CLAIM to be a German language or history academic. Anyways, I was doing fine. Until they handed me a original print of Nicolaus Copernicus' De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. 'On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres' triggered the Copernican Revolution and was a pioneering contribution to the Scientific Revolution. I knew it was censored by the Church. I didn't know that meant carefully 'censoring' the material in way that it was still easily readable. Half of it was annotations in the margins, or putting a line through sections. This was literal history. And I was bloody holding it because they thought I was a German language academic. Never in my life have I been so tempted to demand immediate adult supervision. I never had that feeling when I was handling explosives.

View All Photo Sets