Touching the Past: The Hand and the Medieval Book

July 7–September 27, 2015, Getty Center

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Illuminated manuscripts are precious historical artifacts; they also preserve some of the finest examples of medieval art. Seen in libraries and museums behind glass, these books have been largely removed from the realm of touch, making it easy to forget that their lavishly illuminated pages were once turned, stroked, stitched, and sometimes even sliced by generations before us. Drawn primarily from the Getty Museum's permanent collection, this exhibit explores manuscripts as tangible, tactile objects that invited touch and were handled—reverently, carelessly, obsessively, and critically—by medieval audiences.


All events are free, unless otherwise noted. Seating reservations are required. For reservations and information, please call (310) 440-7300 or see information on planning a visit.


The Once and Future Book: On the Nature of Reading

How has reading changed from the Middle Ages to the latest digital technologies? Did readers of manuscripts have a different relationship to the written word than readers of tablets and iPads? Kathryn Rudy, senior lecturer in art history at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and Steve Wasserman, editor-at-large at Yale University Press, discuss the nature of reading—past, present, and future.

Sunday, September 20, 3:00 p.m.
Getty Center: Harold M. Williams Auditorium


Curator’s Gallery Tour

Kristen Collins, associate curator of manuscripts, the J. Paul Getty Museum, leads a tour of the exhibition. Meet under the stairs in the Entrance Hall.

Thursday, July 9, 2:30 p.m.
Wednesday, September 16, 2:30 p.m.
Getty Center: Museum galleries


Making Manuscripts Video
Making Manuscripts

Learn how illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages and early Renaissance were made in this short video.

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