Andersen Library displays artifacts

Andersen Library houses millions of historical books, photos and clothing.

Danielle Nordine

Beneath the University of Minnesota Elmer L. Andersen Library, two football field-sized caverns house millions of artifacts, and a new exhibit will display some of the most unique pieces of its collection. The exhibit, which opens Monday, is called âÄúBelow the SurfaceâÄù and will feature roughly 100 items from Andersen LibraryâÄôs collections, including manuscripts, clothing and photographs. The exhibit is part of a celebration of the libraryâÄôs 10th anniversary and includes pieces from each of the libraryâÄôs different collections. The materials revolve around seven themes: love, war, death, power, faith, community and beauty. Andersen Library was constructed in 1999 in part to bring together many of the UniversityâÄôs special collections under one roof, Archives and Special Collections Director Kris Kiesling said. The library now has 14 different special archives and collections ranging from horticulture to childrenâÄôs literature. âÄúWe wanted to take themes and subjects that are really relevant to people right now and use those as a framework for the exhibit,âÄù said Darren Terpstra, designer of the exhibit. âÄúWe wanted to choose items that challenge peopleâÄôs typical interpretations of these ideas.âÄù For example, the theme of death features a section with items about Memorial Stadium, the UniversityâÄôs former football stadium, including a brick from the building and old bumper stickers and photos, said Ryan Bean, co-curator of the exhibit. âÄúWeâÄôre really running with the idea that when you look below the surface of archives and materials, you uncover things you wouldnâÄôt expect to find,âÄù he said. The name âÄúBelow the SurfaceâÄù has a double meaning for this exhibit, Kiesling said. Not only are the pieces in the exhibit from the caverns below the museum, but each item also has a meaning beyond its face value, she said. The exhibit, which runs through June 25, is showing in tandem with another exhibit called âÄúAbove the Surface.âÄù The second exhibit will feature different ways the library gets materials, what it does with items, and what students, faculty or the public could do with the archives, Kiesling said. âÄúWhen you go through that process and then see the wonderful things available down below, my hope is that people will see that they have interesting options for research they might not have even thought about,âÄù Bean said. âÄúWe want to show that archives are more than just papers and books.âÄù Terpstra said he hopes âÄúBelow the SurfaceâÄù will provide a unique experience different from other exhibits. âÄúNowadays, most people want a spoon-fed tidbit of information, and then they shut down their brains and are done,âÄù he said. âÄúWith this, we tried to showcase materials that make you think more about what theyâÄôre saying beyond the obvious.âÄù