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Magnificent Obsessions: Why We Collect

National Museum of American History   SCOPE OF WORK  To mark the 50th anniversary of Smithsonian Libraries as a networked library system, Smithsonian Libraries contracted Smithsonian Exhibits (SIE) to develop, design, and produce Magnificent Obsessions: Why We Collect, an exhibit highlighting the pioneering collectors who shaped Smithsonian Libraries’ collections.

Learn more about this project on our blog.

Lenticular graphics at the entrance to the gallery help draw visitors into the space.

Red and blue panels line the entrance to a gallery with the headline “Magnificent Obsessions: Why We Collect.”

The entrance to Magnificent Obsessions: Why We Collect

SIE designed and produced the graphics, artifact mounts, and case furniture for the exhibit.

A detail of one of the cases showing the label for collector Albertus Seba’s lavishly illustrated volume

A blue display case contains four open illustrated books. An image of a red parrot and an orange piece of coral are displayed on the case’s blue background.

SIE’s designers brought Smithsonian Libraries’ unique stories to life through colorful graphics and the wonderful imagery from books and objects.

A purple display case contains four books and a pocket watch. The book at the center of the case depicts an elaborate building.

The concept of the exhibit was to create a modern interpretation of the Cabinet of Curiosities.

A purple display case contains four books and a print. The book at the lower right includes a pop-up illustration of the children’s book character Pinocchio.

The exhibit features historic treasures as well as everyday items, such as comic books and cookbooks.

A wall at the back of a gallery features a series of colorful boxes filled with illustrations. A purple display case to the right contains three books.

A wall at the back of the gallery features imagery from the books in the exhibit and asks visitors what they collect and why.