exhibit Archive


Edward Gorey’s Reawakening of Dracula

By Hannah Hacker

Gif of Dracula transforming into a bat

Dracula has been a name that has instilled fear and fascination in the imaginations of readers and viewers since its original publication by Bram Stoker in 1897. There have been many adaptations and remakes of the novel since then, including F.W. Murnau’s silent film Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Graunens, the 1931 Universal Studios version of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula starring Gary Oldman and directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1992.

There was even a play adaptation about the captivating vampire. In 1924, Hamilton Deane adapted Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula into a stage play with the permission of Stoker’s widow. The play toured in England and was brought to Broadway in 1927.

Dracula was revived in 1977 under the direction of Dennis Rosa. Sets and costumes were designed by Edward Gorey, who is well-known for his quirky cat drawings on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and other Gothic illustrations that have graced the covers of numerous classics, poetry books, and various other publications. With the set and costume design for Dracula, Gorey channeled his obsession with bats. Bats can be found in the walls, in the cobblestone, in the furniture – there are even bats incorporated into the characters’ clothing, like Renfield’s bat-buttoned pajamas.



The set and costumes were so enthralling that the play soon became known as “Edward Gorey’s production of Dracula,” instead of being fully credited to the director. Gorey’s designs were nominated for Tony Awards, and the production received a Tony in 1977 for the best revival of a play.

Dracula closed in 1980 after a strong run of 925 performances.

Edward Gorey’s vision of Dracula did not die with the close of the play. The designs rose once again in 1979 when Scribner’s published them as a spiral-bound book called Dracula: A Toy Theatre. The book contains Gorey’s original designs of the sets and characters, as well as a synopsis of the characters, scenes, and acts. The images of the characters, furniture, and set could be cut out from the pages and taped together so the reader could create their own interactive version of the original stage.

More recently, Pomegranate Communications picked up the book and made it into a box set of the toy theater with loose leaves of die-cut fold-ups and fold-outs. Once the theatre is constructed, the reader can have a full 3-D model of all three acts of the play.

Dracula Toy Theatre Act 1

Dracula Toy Theatre Act 1

Dracula Toy Theatre Act 2

Dracula Toy Theatre Act 2

Dracula Toy Theatre Act 3

Dracula Toy Theatre Act 3

Here at the University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections, we not only have a copy of Scribner’s publication of Dracula: A Toy Theatre, but two copies of the Pomegranate publication as well.

If you want to see them in person, you can swing on by to the Special Collections on the third floor of the Main Library. Otherwise, on October 28th, 11:00am – 3:00pm, we will be hosting a Halloween Pop-Up Exhibit on the first floor of the Main Library, where the complete construction of Dracula: A Toy Theatre will be the star of the exhibit, along with a showcase of some of our spookiest comics and fanzines.

Read more about the event at the link below, and we hope to see you there!

Halloween Pop-Up Exibit


A ‘Gorey’ Good Time: Pop Up Exhibit



Works Cited

“Dracula (1924 Play).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

“Dracula (1977 Play).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

“Dracula.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2016.

Miller, Patrice. “Bat Ambassador: Edward Gorey.” The Edward Gorey House. Edward Gorey House, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

Popova, Maria. “When Edward Gorey Illustrated Dracula: Two Masters of the Macabre, Together.” Brain Pickings. Brain Pickings, 17 Sept. 2015. Web. 19 Oct. 2016.


Main Library Exhibition Gallery is Now OPEN : First Exhibition “Explorer’s Legacy”

Explorer’s Legacy:

James Van Allen and the Discovery of the Radiation Belts

February 1 – April 8



After months of being closed for renovations the new state of the art gallery in the University of Iowa Main Library is now open. Stop by and take a look at the exhibition, including the story of the discovery of the radiation belts, and the tale of how the earliest data recorded from space was recovered, digitized, and made available for scientists and scholars.

Gallery hours:

Monday-Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: 11am – 5pm

Read More about this exhibition.


Special Collections Week in Review, 8/28 – 9/4, 2015

 Recently on the Web and Social Media:


1930's Science Fiction Fanzines

The Hevelin Fanzine Digitization Project was featured on The Verge.  The University of Iowa Libraries is digitizing science fiction fanzines from the 1930s-1950s.




hallAugust Old Gold column from University Archivist David McCartney, Harrison Hall, the Residence Hall That Never Was. 

The planned 1,100-student high-rise, proposed in 1966, never got off the ground.



An artists book with three spoons in the binding

A Culinary Alphabet by Annie Tremmel Wilcox, published in 1998 was featured on our Instagram page. This culinary artist’s book has three spoons as part of the binding.  [Szathmary N7433.4 W524 C8 1998]





Upcoming Events:


1. The first Iowa Bibliophiles meeting of the 2015-2016 season

Cheryl Jacobsen Image

University of Iowa Center for the Book calligraphy instructor Cheryl Jacobsen will present about calligraphic hands featured in Medieval manuscripts held in Special Collections.

6:00PM – Stop by to view a repeat showing of the livestream video of Alison Altstatt’s September 4th talk

6:30PM – Refreshments served

7PM – Cheryl Jacobsen’s talk

Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA


2. Special Collections Editions featured in Old Capitol Museum Exhibition


donqOpening Reception for The Quest Begins: Quixote at 400

Thursday, September 17, 2015 – 5:00pm to 7:00pm

Old Capitol Museum


Exhibition: Illustrations of Don Quixote: Interpretation of Imagination

September 17, 2015 to January 3, 2016

Old Capitol Museum Keyes Gallery for the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences

Explore artistic interpretations of Cervantes’ tale from the 1600s to the 1930s through collected images from editions of Don Quixote from the University of Iowa Libraries.


Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the sponsoring department or contact person listed in advance of the event.


New Acquisitions:


1. A new acquisition for our collection of miniature books.

Miniature book - view of the coverAmos Paul Kennedy, Jr., Descent of Mount Gadam, Jubilee Press, 1993.  Adapted from a folktale of the Mensa Bet-Abrehe people of northern Ethiopia. Includes a linocut outline map of Africa.


2. A new addition to the University of Iowa Libraries’ map collections for studying World War I.

World War 1 mapThe Markets of the World. Open to Great Britain: Closed to Germany, London : Roberts & Leete Ltd., [1916].  This map shows sources of import for Britain during 1916.


Just for Fun:

Our graduate assistants made a parody of our new acquisition unboxing videos we’ve been making on the social media site Vine.

Please welcome our “new acquisition,” graduate assistant John Fifield.


Want to stay connected?  Follow us on social media:

Facebook linkTwitter LinkInstagram LinkTumblr linkYouTube linkVine link



Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on Display in Special Collections

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was an instant publishing success, and it remains a beloved piece of literature today, celebrated during the Christmas season around the world.  The first edition, printed in 1843, includes four hand-colored steel engravings by John Leech.  Our copy of this work comes from the collection of James Wallace, a collector of children’s books with a fine eye for condition and rarity.  Several of the high points in children’s literature from our collections were obtained by Wallace. 

Thoughout the month of December we will be consecutively displaying each of the four hand-colored illustrations.  Stop by Special Collections on the third floor of the Main Library where it will be on display in the case just inside the doors.


“Iowa Now” Feature on 1812 Exhibition


The War of 1812 in Iowa, then and now

Old Capitol exhibit opens Oct. 11 with free reception, lecture

By:  Rebecca Pope | 2012.10.04 | 10:47 AM
 The University of Iowa Old Capitol Museum will mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 with a special exhibition of historical documents, maps and artifacts from various Iowa archaeological sites.

Conflict on the Iowa Frontier: Perspectives on the War of 1812 opens Thursday, Oct. 11, with a free public reception from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the museum. Guest lecturer Eugene Watkins will speak in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum from 6 to 6:45 p.m. and lead a discussion about the history of Fort Madison. Watkins is Fort Madison’s site manager for Old Fort Madison. He holds a doctorate of U.S. history from the University of Toledo.

A photograph of a book with a drawing of a man on the left page and words on the right page
Black Hawk’s autobiography. Photo courtesy of UI Pentacrest Museums, book from Special Collections

Artifacts featured in the exhibit include Black Hawk’s autobiography, giving insight into the war from the perspective of Native Americans, and an Orderly Book for infantry men of the period, in which general and regimental orders were recorded. These objects tell the story of the war’s Mississippi River campaign and how it affected the future of the state.

Also on Oct. 11, archaeologist Jodi Magness, distinguished professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will give the UI Department of Religious Studies Adler Lecture and the UI Pentacrest Museums Directors’ Lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum.

In anticipation of National Archaeology Day, her topic is “Ossuaries and the Burial of Jesus and James.” The presentation is free and open to the public. Magness specializes in the archaeology of ancient Palestine in the Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic periods.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. For more information on the UI Pentacrest Museums and Old Capitol Museum, visit www.uiowa.edu/oldcap/or call 319-335-0548. The UI Department of Religious Studies is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Books and documents from Special Collections are featured in this exhibition, including the Black Hawk autobiography seen in the photo. Original article can be viewed here: http://now.uiowa.edu/2012/10/war-1812-iowa-then-and-now

Monumental Ideas in Miniature Books II

“Monumental Ideas in Miniature Book Making” is a traveling exhibition of more than 100 artists’ miniature books from eight countries curated by Hui-Chu Ying, Professor of The Myers School of Art, at the University of Akron. These small treasures by nationally and internationally recognized book artists explore epic tales, poetry, and storytelling using diverse book and printmaking techniques.  Emily Martin and Jill Kambs from the University of Iowa Center for the Book have works featured in this exhibition.  This visually stunning and dramatically eclectic collection demonstrates in stunning miniature the breadth and variety of contemporary artist’s books. 

The books will be exhibited outside Special Collections and University Archives on the third floor of the Main Library for just four more weeks until October 22nd, 2012.

For exquisite photographic views of each of the works, visit the MIMB2 Flickr page:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mimborg/