Introduction Overview Images KU Leuven Penn Library

Founded in 1425, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven is the oldest university in the Low Countries. For several decades, the University of Pennsylvania has participated in a scholarly exchange program with them that has allowed students and faculty from each institution to study and teach at the other. In 1999 the KU Leuven Library mounted a major exhibition of books and manuscripts at Penn: Books in Leuven, Leuven in Books. Now, the Penn Library is presenting its own display of treasures in Leuven. The occasion for the exhibit is the seventy-fifth anniversary of the reopening of the Central Library. That Library had been destroyed in World War I and was rebuilt afterwards with generous contributions from American donors, private and institutional, among them the University of Pennsylvania. They proposed that Penn do an exhibit on “Humanism,” a topic that reaches across the Atlantic to tap traditions of learning and civility on both continents. In the turmoil of the present, it seems not only fitting but necessary to remind ourselves of the deeper connections between Old World and New and to underscore the common patrimony of both. The Penn Library is pleased and proud to be able to share with our European friends and colleagues a selection of books and manuscripts from an institution in which the traditions of Humanism have remained alive and well.

Michael Ryan,
Director, Annenberg Rare Book & Manuscript Library