History's great thinkers showcased in Central Library exhibit

Mar 28, 2016

History is a cornerstone of education and visitors to Buffalo's main library can now walk through a gallery that showcases centuries of brilliant minds.

The Central Library is currently displaying works by Darwin, Aristotle, Newton, Galileo, Copernicus and other luminaries in its Milestones of Science: Books That Shook The World! exhibit. Teachers can bring students in to look at 35 rare books written by the inventors and scientists they are learning about.

Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski said the exhibit offers unique educational opportunities.

“When the students have come in, it has been amazing,” said Jakubowski. “Their reaction is to say, ‘This was really Ben Franklin’s book? He actually wrote this book?’ Absolutely he did. ‘Oh my goodness, this was from Copernicus.’ Yes, absolutely. This is original,” said Jakubowski.

A book written by Benjamin Franklin is among the items on display in the new library exhibit.
Credit Nick Lippa/WBFO News

The gallery has an area called The STEM Education Center that features games, including a life-sized chessboard. Jakubowski says organizers have connected the exhibits to Common Core learning standards and created science kits that teachers can use and even bring back to their classes. Some books are several hundred years old.

“To have all of these works in one area...I get goosebumps just thinking about it because these are the founders of today’s sciences,” said Jakubowski.

The collection was originally assembled during the Great Depression by the Buffalo Museum of Science. Jakubowski says seeing the original works gives the material a new meaning.

Russian chemist Dmitry Mendeleyev created the basis of the periodic table of elements.
Credit Nick Lippa/WBFO News

“In order to learn, you have to have fun in education,” said Jakubowski. “So, we wanted to put on exhibit our most beautiful books that we have that are the most picturesque. We wanted to bring those out and show people the scientists of yesterday and the works that they have.”

The exhibit features interactive stations with codes for your phone that expand on the individual works. Tours take place every Saturday.  The exhibit will remain on display through September 2017.