Upcoming Exhibitions

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript

19 August – 12 December 2022

Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University

Tolkien Manuscript

Marquette University’s Raynor Memorial Libraries and the Haggerty Museum of Art are pleased to announce an upcoming exhibition of manuscripts from the celebrated author and artist J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973), best known for his literary classics The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

The exhibition considers Tolkien’s work through the lens of manuscripts, in terms of both the materials that he studied as a medieval philologist and the manuscripts that he created while developing his legendarium. Professor Tolkien was deeply immersed in the complexities of manuscripts, and this exhibition will illustrate how different aspects of the manuscript tradition found expression within Tolkien’s scholarly life and in his creative writing.

The foundation for this exhibition is Marquette University’s extensive collection of Tolkien manuscripts housed within the library’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives. It will also include items borrowed from other repositories, including a significant number of Tolkien manuscripts and artwork from the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford.

The exhibition will include over 100 items, many that have not previously been exhibited or published.

Additional details are available in a brief FAQ. More information will be available as the exhibition’s opening approaches!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

When is the exhibition?

The exhibition opens on Friday, August 19, 2022, and closes four months later, on Thursday, December 12, 2022.

Do I need a ticket to attend the exhibition?

Yes, tickets will be required to regulate access to what will certainly be a very popular exhibition. Tickets will be available in advance. An announcement will be made when they become available.

Who is curating the exhibition?

This exhibition is a collaboration between William Fliss, Tolkien Archivist in Marquette’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives, and Dr. Sarah Schaefer, Assistant Professor, Art History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

What is a manuscript? 

Traditionally, a manuscript is a document created by hand, often combining writing with illustrations, maps, timelines, and more. One of the goals of the exhibition is to illuminate questions of how manuscripts have traditionally been understood and used—questions that Professor Tolkien explored throughout his scholarly and creative life. Visitors can expect to leave the exhibition with a greater understanding of the complex traditions around manuscripts. 

How is this different from other Tolkien exhibitions in recent years?

This exhibition builds upon the success of recent Tolkien exhibitions— Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth at Oxford University (2018) and the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City (2019); and Tolkien, Journey to Middle-earth at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris (2019-2020)—but it does not seek to replicate them. Although Marquette’s exhibition will contain some items shown at each of these previous exhibitions, it has a unique focus, being centered on the manuscript tradition. The exhibition will delve more thoroughly into Tolkien’s scholarly life and feature the historical texts with which he was so familiar, and which influenced his own creative work.

Who should visit the exhibition?

This exhibition will appeal to diverse audiences, including scholars of medieval and modern art and literature, dedicated Tolkien enthusiasts interested in seeing materials that have not been exhibited before, and American fans who did not have the opportunity to visit the exhibitions in Oxford, New York, or Paris.    

Will there be other Tolkien-related programming during the exhibition?

Yes, additional events are being planned to coincide with the exhibition, including opportunities for educational and community groups of all ages. More information will be forthcoming.

Will there be a publication to accompany the exhibition?

Yes! More details are forthcoming.

Are the opportunities to support this exhibition?

Yes! For more information about sponsorship opportunities please contact Sara Harvey at sara.harvey@marquette.edu or +1 414-288-4766. 


image credit: Marquette MS. Tolkien 3/4/12/1a. ©The Tolkien Estate Limited