If Books Could Kill

What makes a book deadly?

The text? The ink? The pigments? The binding?

Historically, all of the above.

This exhibit explores the toxicity of book production. From texts such as the Malleus Maleficarum, Mein Kampf, and the Bible, which have influenced killing, to the chemical make-up of the ingredients used to produce books. We were inspired by the Winterthur Library Poison Book Project, and their work on detecting toxicity in bookcloth colorants primarily from the 19th century.

If Books Could Kill showcases the artifacts within our collection that possibly contain toxic ingredients. From bookcloths, pigments, parchment, leathers, dust, mold, fungus, and disease this exhibit will have you question the poisonous nature of books.