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Programs & Exhibitions

Archive of Past Exhibitions


Lives of the Great Patriotic War: The Untold Story of Soviet Jewish Soldiers in the Red Army During WWII

Doheny Library first floor
April 24–July 15, 2014

Lives of the Great Patriotic War
explores the unknown story of 500,000 Jewish soldiers who fought in the Soviet Armed forces against Nazi Germany during WWII (known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War). The exhibit presents, for the first time, the remarkable experiences of those who were there, and provides an overview of the war on Soviet soil and an examination of the factors that influenced its direction and outcome. In print and interactive digital displays, the exhibit features war-time diary and letter excerpts, reproductions of archival photographs and documents, as well as video excerpts from contemporary oral testimonies.


Collecting the Cosmos

Doheny Library Ground Floor
January 23–May 23, 2014

The very vastness of the heavens calls out for many means of comprehension. Victor Raphael and Clayton Spada's artwork incorporates elements of materials from USC Libraries’ collections. These images remix themes of space and time, folklore and religion, quantum mechanics and microbiology, in the process uncovering a hidden universe of knowledge. Hidden Light, an installation by Dan Goods of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, simulated the process by which astronomers look for Earth-like objects throughout the galaxy. Also on display were rare books from our Special Collections that trace humanity’s attempts to make sense of the night sky, photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope that peer into the furthest distances of the universe, and an interactive experience developed by USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, which offers the viewer an opportunity to discover the terrain of Mars.

Subversive Works / Sustainable Art

Doheny Library First-floor Treasure Room
February 28–May 23, 2014

Over the past few decades, workshops in Latin America have reimagined the physicality of artists’ books by incorporating found, recycled, and natural materials. They subvert the notion of what a book should be and mean by producing them collectively and inexpensively, and experimenting with the format and content. Taller Leñateros in Chiapas, Mexico, and Ediciones Vigía in Matanzas, Cuba, create a fantastical array of books that merge two literary influences in the Americas—ancient pre-Columbian codices and European printed narratives. In 2003, a group of writers and artists in Argentina founded Eloísa Cartonera during the country’s economic crisis. Their name relates to the scrap cardboard purchased from cartoneros (or “paper pickers”) and repurposed as sturdy covers. Such ventures suggest possibilities for the survival of the book as an embodiment of cultural values and carrier of collective expression.

Trillion$: The Awesome Power of the Federal Reserve

Doheny Memorial Library, Treasure Room
September 27, 2013–December 15, 2013

Historic currency, photographs, documents, and other items highlight the one-hundred-year history of this important—yet often misunderstood—institution. Learn more about the exhibition.

The Mosely Snowflake Fractal

Doheny Memorial Library, First-floor foyer
Fall 2012–Spring 2013

The award-winning origami fractal made by the university community out of 50,000 business cards.

Discovery: A Transpacific Curatorial Experiment

Doheny Memorial Library, Ground Floor
Fall 2011–Spring 2012

Images drawn from the collections of Pacific Rim Digital Library Alliance member universities mark the USC Libraries’ first crowd-sourced exhibition on the theme of discovery.

Queer Worldmaking

Doheny Memorial Library, Treasure Room
January 24 through May 31, 2012

Photographs, documents, scrapbooks, recordings, films, and costumes related to queer activism and culture in Los Angeles from the 1940s to the 1980s, chart the birth of “homophile” activism, the production of the nation’s first LGBT publications, and the rise of gay liberation and lesbian feminism.

Demonocracy: All Hell Breaks Loose in 1905 Russia

Doheny Memorial Library, Treasure Room
September 9, 2011–December 16, 2011

The year 1905 shook Russia and challenged Tsar Nicholas II. Strikes by workers protesting poor labor conditions spread across the country, crippling the economy. Mutinies by soldiers and sailors following a stunning military loss to Japan exacerbated the crisis. The government’s violent reaction to these events only increased public outcry, forcing Nicholas to promise political and social reform. Artists and journalists took advantage of this loosening of authoritarian power to create a multitude of popular satirical journals that broke previous taboos. Taking the government to task like never before, they portrayed bureaucrats as demons, devils, vampires, imps, fiends, incubi, and other nightmarish monsters. These daring periodicals sold in great numbers despite constantly running afoul of the authorities. The items on display here are from USC’s Institute of Modern Russian Culture. Many of these periodicals are available online through the Russian Satirical Journals Project and the USC Digital Library.

Paderewski: The Modern Immortal

Doheny Memorial Library, Treasure Room
September 15, 2010–May 31, 2011

Materials drawn from the USC Libraries Special Collections and the Polish Music Center at the USC Thornton School of Music mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the piano virtuoso who became Poland’s first post-WWI prime minister.

Sueños by the Sea: Celebrating Los Festivales de Flor y Canto

Doheny Memorial Library, Ground Floor Rotunda
September 15, 2010–May 31, 2011

The Chicano Movement began in the 1960s as an outgrowth of earlier efforts by Mexican-Americans to gain new legal rights and protections. The leaders of the movement advocated for a number of social and political changes, such as improved labor conditions for farm workers, access to education for immigrant children, and the restoration of property. Invigorated by their raised profile, Chicano writers produced an array of novels, poetry, and short stories addressing such themes as their role in U.S. society and their sometimes-quixotic pursuit of the “American Dream” while faced with ethnic marginalization.

In 1973, USC held the Festival de Flor y Canto (Festival of flower and song). Organized by El Centro Chicano, the event drew hundreds of visitors to hear dozens of writers and poets recite their works. While covering the event for the Daily Trojan, photographer Michael Sedano captured a number of these writers early in their careers. Many of the readings were also videotaped and are available for viewing at the USC Digital Library.

On September 15–17, 2010, the USC Libraries reprised the festival, featuring many of the original writers and poets, along with a new generation of voices.

The Space Age Hits the Road: Visionary Car Designs in America

Doheny Memorial Library, Ground Floor Rotunda
February 6 – May 31, 2010

The cars rolling off the assembly lines of Detroit's Big Three automakers were among the most memorable symbols of the future-as it was imagined during the 1950s. Their elongated tailfins and cockpit-like windshields drew inspiration from the U.S. space program and the aesthetics of jet aircraft, evoking the idealized lifestyle promised to Americans by Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. Automobile designers envisioned a sleeker future, in which drivers traveled effortlessly and comfortably to their destinations. Many of the photographs seen here were originally published in the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper and are now a part of the USC Libraries' Special Collections. View the virtual exhibition The Space Age Hits the Road.


The Art of Going: Five Hundred Years of American Travel Narratives

Doheny Memorial Library, Treasure Room
February 6 – May 31, 2010

The Art of Going explores how a diverse selection of observers from around the world has reacted to the mystery of the American landscape. The exhibition brings together accounts by adventurers, steamboat captains, drifters, bohemians, documentarians, missionaries, and tourists who set out to discover an unknown country.


The Story of Everything

Doheny Memorial Library, Treasure Room and Ground Floor
September 3 – December 13, 2009

The USC Libraries presented The Story of Everything, an exhibition of original artwork by Southern California artists Victor Raphael and Clayton Spada. The artists explored the intersections of astronomy, Kabbalism, evolution, geometry, and countless other subjects. Like latter-day alchemists, they transmute a diverse selection of visual materials into rich, multilayered perspectives on the nature of the universe. Complementing Raphael and Spada's digital artworks, the libraries presented Notes from the Story of Everything, an exhibition of rare books and other materials from our special collections that partly inspired their creative journey. These items continue the artists' explorations of eternal questions—creation and destruction, harmony and strife, infinity and void—that define our existence. You can still explore the USC Libraries virtual exhibition From Zero to Infinity: The Story of Everything here.


When Windmills are Giants: The Novel Adventures of Don Quixote

Doheny Memorial Library, first-floor Treasure Room
January 30 –May 16, 2009

One of the great literary epics, Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote has captivated readers ever since its first volume appeared in 1605. The novel traces the adventures of a Spanish hidalgo who believes he’s living in a chivalric romance, seeking the favor of his Dulcinea and encountering imaginary foes along the way. In displays of rare illustrated editions from the USC Libraries’ L.A. Murillo Cervantes Collection, When Windmills Are Giants follows the knight and his companion Sancho Panza as they crisscross the countryside with comical—and at times devastating—results.


Callooh! Callay! A Brillig Look at the USC Libraries Wonderland Award

Doheny Memorial Library, ground-floor rotunda
January 30 –May 16, 2009

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Wonderland Award, a multidisciplinary competition inspired by the work of Lewis Carroll. Since 2005, USC students have created everything from poems, essays, and novels to films, paintings, and sculptures. Their entries reflect the imaginative range of Carroll himself, a polymath known for his logic puzzles, nonsense poetry, and photography, along with The Hunting of the Snark and the Alice books. Sponsored by Friends of the USC Libraries member Linda Cassady, the Wonderland Award encourages students to explore the G. Edward Cassady, M.D., and Margaret Elizabeth Cassady, R.N., Lewis Carroll Collection held in Doheny Memorial Library’s special collections. To learn more about the exhibition, collection, and award, visit


A Sound Design: The Art of the Album Cover

Doheny Memorial Library, ground-floor rotunda
September 5–December 15, 2008

In 1939, a young art director at Columbia Records named Alex Steinweiss made a radical decision. Rejecting the plain paper album covers of the time, he added vivid musical imagery to create a dialog with the sounds inside. As other labels copied his approach, a popular graphic art form was born. Even after the heyday of record albums between the 1960s and 1980s, vinyl remains a significant medium of expression for DJ culture and independent record labels. A Sound Design explores the USC Libraries music collection’s visual dimension, which can be overlooked after record-jacket art was reduced to CD covers and then thumbnail-sized digital representation. The exhibition celebrates challenging graphic designers like Jim Flora, Raymond Pettibon, and Andy Warhol, who made significant contributions to this visual medium and shaped the identities of performers in jazz, rock, punk, hip-hop, and numerous other genres. In a USC news article, Diane Krieger explores many of the iconic album covers featured in the exhibition.

Biblioclasm: The Assault on Ideas from Homer to Harry Potter

Doheny Memorial Library, first-floor Treasure Room
September 26–December 16, 2008

Seventy-five years ago in Berlin, the Nazis burned thousands of books they deemed un-German. From emperors to popes, senators to school administrators, authorities have tried to suppress literature that defies political power, questions belief systems, and challenges accepted morality. Biblioclasm presents items from the USC Libraries’ special collections that survived hysteria and outrage incited by the ideas they contain. Featuring works by a surprising group of authors—including William Shakespeare and Confucius—the exhibition dramatizes the potential loss to our cultural heritage had they fallen to the ageless urge to censor. The Biblioclasm online companion includes the exhibition catalog, a video interview with curator Andrew Wulf, an interactive map of censorship activities in Southern California, an essay by philosophy librarian Ross Scimeca, and a slideshow of drawings--inspired by excerpts from banned literary works in the exhibition--by students from the USC School of Architecture.


Mobsters, Molls, and Mayhem: A Year in the Life of Los Angeles

Doheny Memorial Library, ground-floor rotunda
February 15–May 15, 2008

The year 1958 was especially fruitful for anyone looking to capitalize on the latest salacious scandal in Los Angeles. The sensational trial of movie star Lana Turner’s daughter (accused of murdering Johnny Stompanato) grabbed the most headlines while violent gangster Mickey Cohen was regularly caught picking fights all over town. In addition, plenty of unexpected events provided rich fodder for the camera lens, from the Dodgers’ controversial cross-country move to everyday scenes of damage and destruction. These pictures illuminate a darker side of the City of Angels, one where L.A.’s popular facade as a halcyon land of swaying palm trees and burnished beaches gives way to real-life stories of crime, corruption, and chaos. The striking images were taken by photographers working for the now-defunct Los Angeles Examiner newspaper. Newly printed from negatives held by the USC Libraries regional history collection, they reflect how much (or perhaps how little) has changed here in the intervening fifty years. Thousands of additional images from the Examiner can be viewed online through USC’s Digital Library.


The Art of Film Adaptation

Doheny Memorial Library, first-floor Treasure Room
February 2–May 16, 2008

Since the birth of cinema, filmmakers have taken on the challenges of adapting literature for the silver screen. The earliest effort was Trilby and Little Billee (1896), based on George du Maurier’s gothic novel. Transforming a two-hundred-page novel into a two-hour film requires screenwriters to make delicate artistic choices while trimming the source material and translating it into a new artistic medium. In 1924, Austrian director Erich von Stroheim famously attempted a literal, scene-by-scene adaptation of Frank Norris’s McTeague, resulting in a nearly ten-hour film. MGM made drastic cuts before releasing it widely in theaters. Since then, directors and audiences have come to accept that literary works require significant changes to make an effective transition to the screen. This exhibition examines sixteen classic adaptations, from the 1927 Jazz Singer to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Each display illustrates how an image from the film was realized from the shooting script and the relevant scene in the original literary source. The Art of Film Adaptation complements the twentieth-annual USC Libraries Scripter Award, honoring the writers of the year’s most accomplished film adaptation and the novel or short story that inspired it.


From Queen Califia to Grizzly Adams: Eighty Essential Books on California History

August 24—December 15, 2007

In 1945, a book club in Los Angeles named after California’s first printer, Agustín Vicente Zamorano, produced a list of what it considered to be the most important books documenting the history of the Golden State. This eclectic collection, known as the Zamorano 80, spans numerous genres, ranging from personal diaries and expedition logs to fiction and biographies. These rare books offer a comprehensive view of early California from the era of the conquistadores to the early twentieth century. At the same time, they reveal contrasting, often paradoxical images of a place that remains a romantic archetype for the new El Dorado.

Operas without Singing: The Film Music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold

September 7—December 7, 2007

In 1910, a thirteen-year-old boy stunned a Vienna audience with his virtuosic performance of a classical piano piece he had written a few years earlier. Drawing comparisons to other child prodigies like Mozart and Mendelssohn, Erich Wolfgang Korngold was soon renowned among European classical-music circles for his operatic compositions. When the Nazis came to power in the 1930s, he fled Austria and settled in Southern California, where he began composing scores for the film industry. His works followed in the Romantic tradition of Wagner, Strauss, and Mahler. To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of his death, Operas without Singing celebrated the film music Korngold composed during the Golden Age of Hollywood. The exhibition materials are drawn largely from the collections of the USC Cinematic Arts Library and the Warner Bros. archives.


100 Artists' Books

January 26—May 15, 20067

Artists’ books are a fascinating departure from traditional media of art, such as painting, sculpture, or photography. They act more like three-dimensional poems, defying the accepted notion that books should function as linear narratives. This exhibition of 100 of the best works from the USC Libraries explored their continued relevance as an art form today.

The Face of Poetry

January 26—May 15, 2007

Dramatic portraits by photographer Margaretta K. Mitchell celebrated fifty of America’s leading contemporary poets. The poets range from those who came of age during World War II to a group of younger writers rapidly gaining prominence today.


The Music of Elmer Bernstein: An American Soundtrack

September 8–December 8, 2006

Elmer Bernstein (1922–2004) was a master of the art of film scoring. His six decades of work in Hollywood crossed cinematic genres, from Westerns to comedies, epics to quiet dramas and comprises an unforgettable soundtrack to the second half of the twentieth century. Honored with multiple Academy Award nominations for films as diverse as The Magnificent Seven, Trading Places, The Age of Innocence, and Far From Heaven, Bernstein’s compositions perfectly demonstrate how music holds the potential to profoundly heighten and transform the medium of film by evoking a depth and tension in the interplay between what is seen and what is heard in the movie theater. Handwritten music scores, photographs, correspondence, LPs, and awards, recently donated to the USC Libraries by the family of Elmer Bernstein, highlighted the remarkable career of this film legend.

Five Days of Freedom: Photographs from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956

September 17–December 17, 2006

Soon after the end of World War II, the Soviet Union seized power in the recently defeated countries of Eastern Europe and instituted Communist rule. On October 23, 1956, thousands of Hungarians in Budapest took to the streets to demand political reform and an end to the occupation. After a few brief skirmishes with protesters, which included students, factory workers, and Hungarian soldiers, the Soviets withdrew across the border. Jubilant citizens took to the streets celebrating their newly found freedom. However, the Soviets counterattacked shortly thereafter, crushing this nascent revolution and forcing nearly 250,000 people to flee the country. Austrian photojournalist Erich Lessing documented the dramatic events leading up to, during, and after the conflict with images that show both a people’s desperate fight for freedom and the stark reality of life in Communist Europe in the middle of the twentieth century. This exhibition highlighted a selection of Lessing’s photographs from this era, and commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution.

The Curious World of Lewis Carroll

February 24, 2006–May 24, 2006

Lewis Carroll is known around the world as the author of two literary classics—Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. The books, which highlight Carroll’s sense of the absurd and love for logic puzzles, remain popular with children and adults. Today, much of the critical attention given to Carroll casts a wider net beyond his beloved Alice books to include his revolutionary nonsense poetry, remarkable photography, epistolary output, and scholarly work in mathematics. Carroll’s deeply religious nature, wideranging intellectual pursuits, and distinct fondness for entertaining children, make him an intriguing subject for study. Rare books, pamphlets, artwork, films, and ephemera from USC’s Special Collections showcased the world’s continued fascination with Carroll’s creative output.


Fight On! Celebrating 125 Years of the USC Spirit

October 6, 2005–May 14, 2006

The triumphant first 125 years of one of America's premier institutions of higher learning were highlighted with rare artifacts from the university archives. The display chronicled the history of the university—from its founding on the outskirts of the city of Los Angeles to its current preeminence in Southern California and the world. In addition, the university's academic achievements, sports heritage and the tight-knit Trojan family were profiled.


Setting the Stage: The Rise of American Popular Theater

September 9–December 9, 2005

America's rich heritage of popular entertainment for the masses was on display as photographs, playbills, stage props, sheet music, and archival film from USC’s Special Collections brought to life a world of diversions targeted for the common man. Traveling circuses, minstrel shows, vaudeville, burlesque, variety, radio, and silent films all competed for America's entertainment dollar in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, until the first "talkies" appeared and transformed the landscape.


The Best Seat in the House: Photographs of Classical Musicians by Jim Arkatov

June 14 – August 14, 2005

With subjects ranging from Midori to Isaac Stern, Jim Arkatov's images showcased many of the world's most recognizable and accomplished musical artists.

As both a cellist and photographer, Arkatov occupied the fabled "best seat in the house." He became acquainted with many of the great conductors and soloists of the last sixty years after playing with the Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Indianapolis symphonies as well as the Hollywood Bowl and Los Angeles Chamber orchestras.

During breaks in the music he would often trade his cellist's bow for his camera and capture these twentieth century orchestral legends in their performing element. The result is an insightful collection of images of classical musical geniuses as seen through the lens of a fellow musician.


Don't Stop Moving: A Celebration of Modern Dance Pioneer Bella Lewitzky

January 15–May 22, 2005

Rare photographs, letters and ephemera chronicled the career of West Coast dance icon Bella Lewitzky (1916–2004). When dance legend Bella Lewitzky passed away in July 2004 at the age of 88, the arts lost one of its most respected and dedicated champions.

"The rich legacy of Bella Lewitzky lives on at USC with the contribution of the archives of her work to our library," said Margo Apostolos, director of the USC School of Theatre's dance program. "Her collection will keep her spirit of modern dance alive for generations of young dancers."

Though Lewitzky was a renowned dancer, choreographer and master teacher, she may best be remembered as an arts advocate who challenged the United States government on more than one occasion.

She campaigned passionately for government support of the arts, yet was undaunted by its attempts to limit artistic freedom. In 1951, she was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee to answer questions about possible communist activities in the arts.

AVODA: Objects of the Spirit / Ceremonial Art by Tobi Kahn

March 8–May 31, 2005

AVODA: Objects of the Spirit is a ceremonial arts project created by the painter and sculptor Tobi Kahn. Since 1985, when Kahn’s work appeared in the Guggenheim Museum’s national exhibition, New Horizons in American Art, his images have challenged the viewer’s eye and heart to find abstraction within nature. AVODA expresses this interest in a groundbreaking medium.

Life As He Knew It: Photographs of Black Los Angeles from the Walter Gordon Collection at USC

February 15–May 15, 2005

Walter Lear Gordon, Jr., was born in Santa Monica on June 22, 1908. As a practicing attorney in Los Angeles for sixty-seven years, he became acquainted with many notable members of the African-American community. Gordon opened his law practice in 1937 in the front office of the California Eagle newspaper. He befriended many of the staff photographers who, on assignment from the paper, shot numerous pictures of Black social life in Los Angeles. Although these photographs typically were thrown away after being printed, Gordon regularly rescued from the discard pile the prints of people or places with which he was familiar. But for his foresight, many of the photographs seen here would have been lost long ago. These images depict leading members of the Black community within Gordon's social circle, including clergymen, entertainers, politicians, professionals, and "society" men and women. Interestingly, the snapshots portray a vibrant group of people clearly enjoying economic, social, and political success—achieved amidst pervasive racial segregation and discrimination. The photographs on display represented only a small portion of the more than seven hundred collected by Walter Gordon from the 1920s-1950s. They reflect aspects of a Black social life in Los Angeles in danger of becoming lost to history.

They Shall Not Perish: Relief Efforts of the Near East foundation, 1915-1920

September 17–January 30, 2005

This exhibition documents through letters, photographs, posters, books and other printed materials the Foundation's massive relief effort. Also included in the display was a multimedia presentation of the only known photographs of the genocide, taken by the German army officer Armin T. Wegner. On April 24, 1915, Armenian political, religious, educational and intellectual leaders in Constantinople (now, Istanbul) were arrested and murdered when a triumvirate of extreme Turkish nationals took control of the region in an effort to eliminate the Armenian people and create a Pan-Turkic empire that spread to Central Asia. In the years that followed, the Turkish government ordered the deaths or deportation of Armenians to "relocation centers" in the barren deserts of Syria and Mesopotamia.


The Foul and the Fragrant: Creating Perfume

September 17–December 17, 2004

This exhibition examined the history and methods of natural scent-making through books, photographs and rare objects from USC’s special collections and the personal collection of Berkeley-based perfumer Mandy Aftel.


Sacred Rattles and Sympathetic Strings: The Gale Collection of Instruments from the USC Thornton School of Music

February 27–May 17, 2004

Rare music books, scores and objects, including Western and non-Western musical instruments from the USC Thornton School of Music’s Gale Collection, De Lorenzo Collection and Early Music Ensemble Collection.

Town and Gown: A Centennial Celebration

October 2003–May 2004

The growth of this vital USC women's auxilary group was traced over the part one hundred years.

Out West: L.A.'s Influence on the Gay and Lesbian Movement

September 18 – December 18, 2003

Rare books, posters and ephemera from the ONE Institute and Archives, a University Libraries affiliate.

Charting the Here of There: A French and American Dialogue in Poetry

February 7 – May 9, 2003

Ever since Charles Baudelaire discovered the work of Edgar Allan Poe, French and American poets have engaged in a dialogue through literary journals published in both countries. Strong emotional and intellectual bonds have formed between the two cultures due to the mutual practice of translating poetry. This exhibition presented the highlights of a transatlantic literary exchange in a selection of magazines from the mid-nineteenth century up to the present.


Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg: The Discovery and Exploration of Antarctica

September 12 – December 12, 2002

A look at this cold and forbidding continent through materials from USC's special collections.

The Fantastic Menagerie: Art of the Russian Cabaret

April 5 – July 15, 2002

An exhibition highlighting early 20th century Russian cabaret and intimate theater.

Jacques Leiser: Portraits and Legends

February 1 – April 1, 2002

An exhibition of vintage photographs by photographer Jacques Leiser focusing mainly on portraits of musicians.

Trojan of an Ebony Hue: The Life and Work of Varnette Honeywood

February 1 – March 31, 2002

A exhibition of the work of local visual artist Varnette Honeywood, held as part of Black History Month celebrations.

Doheny Memorial Library: Heart of the University

October 10, 2001 – March 17, 2002

A look at this important cultural landmark's seventy-year history, coinciding with the library's grand reopening.