W.H. Wilmer's Rare Books Now On View at George Peabody
Illustration from 16th-century
text on eye diseases titled 'Ophthalmoduoleia,' by George
Bartisch. Dresden: Matthes Stockel, 1583.
By Pamela Higgins
A Perfect Vision: The Rare Book Collection of
William Holland Wilmer, an exhibition of works from a
collection of more than 400 books on astronomy, medicine,
optics and ophthalmology that have been out of public view
for nearly three-quarters of a century, opened on April 1
and will run through June 30 at the George Peabody
William Holland Wilmer, pre-eminent physician and
founder of the Wilmer
Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins, was also a passionate
bibliophile who amassed an exceptional collection during
the 1920s and 1930s.
The exhibition is curated by Richard Semba, associate
professor of ophthalmology at the School of Medicine and a
member of the Wilmer Eye Institute faculty since 1987. A
bibliophile and collector, Semba became aware of the Wilmer
collection through his research in the history of medicine.
He will present a gallery talk on Monday, April 10, at 5
p.m., and the gallery will be open until 7 p.m. that
Bequeathed to the university upon Wilmer's death in
1936, the Wilmer collection contains works tracing the
medical and scientific discoveries that ultimately led to
the understanding of vision and the modern era of the
treatment and prevention of eye diseases. The exhibition
features works dating from the 15th through the 18th
centuries, arranged into seven overarching themes:
astronomy, early medical teaching, optics, theories of
vision, color, ophthalmology and spectacles.
Beautifully illustrated editions with 17th-century
woodcuts and copper plate engravings and 19th-century
hand-colored lithographs are among the items displayed.
Spectacles and ophthalmological instruments from the 18th
and 19th centuries are also included.
The George Peabody Library is located at 17 E. Mt.
Vernon Place. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday
through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m on Sundays.
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