Magnificent Obsessions: Why We Collect

Illustrations of seashells

Magnificent Obsessions told the intriguing stories of the book collectors whose diverse interests and passions helped shape—and continue to contribute to—the Smithsonian Libraries. Through rare books, manuscripts, and other intriguing items from across the varied Libraries of the Smithsonian Institution, the exhibition highlighted the personal motivations and enduring impact of book collectors who were compelled to share their “magnificent obsessions” with the nation.

Highlights included Wonder Woman’s 1942 debut cover, a woodblock printed book by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, and the Hebrew Bible engraved on a microchip.