For the next several months, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library will be providing insight into “the science of the soul.”
A new exhibition at the Beinecke, “Psyche and Muse,” features a collection of pictures, handwritten letters, postcards, manuscripts and books belonging to influential figures from the history and development of psychology, ranging from Sigmund Freud to Carl Jung. The materials are shown in the glass cases that surround the mezzanine floor of the Beinecke. The exhibit opened to audiences for the first time on Jan. 28, after a year of work and preparation, said Kevin Repp, one of the four curators of the exhibit.
All the materials displayed have been pulled from the Beinecke’s own permanent collections, from the Modern European Books and Manuscripts Collection to the Yale Collection of American Literature and the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, Repp said.
“Most of the items at the exhibit have been with Beinecke since [the library’s] opening,” he added. “Though we have continued to add to the collection throughout the years.”
The idea for the exhibit came from Nancy Kuhl, curator of the Beinecke Poetry and American Literature Collection — who is also one of the four curators of “Psyche and Muse” — and from her goal to organize and present an exhibition about Freud and his impact on psychology. Kuhl also helped develop the name and theme of the exhibit.
“It’s a first-time effort at finding a theme across all materials that we have in our collections, and putting them together in a presentation,” Repp said. “In that sense, it is a very special exhibit.”
Repp noted that his favorite piece of the entire display is a 10-foot-long scroll by Bart Lucas. The scroll comes with a collection of semi-archival material surrounding a character in Lucas’ work that drilled a hole in his head to liberate his third eye. Repp added that the reason he enjoys this piece is because it is an “extremely rare item” and because it has an “extraordinary” story.
Three participants interviewed agreed that it was enjoyable to see original copies of handwritten letters and postcards from Freud himself, and from other influential figures in the history of psychology. Meanwhile, other students noted that they appreciated the opportunity to see first-hand documents that they were studying in their academic classes.
“I learned about Freud in my ‘Intro to Psych’ class last semester, and it was great to be able to see first-hand materials that I learned about in class,” Amal Ga’al ’14, one of the students at the exhibit, said.
The exhibit will remain on view until June 13.