Draw Me Ishmael: The Book Arts of Moby Dick

Exhibition Website

Jun 1 2024 - Jan 4 2026

Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is the most continuously, frequently and diversely depicted of American literary works. The novel and its timeless themes continue to inspire artists, designers and creatives of all types. Its first sentence: “Call me Ishmael.” is one of the most iconic and best-known opening lines in all of literature.​

Draw Me Ishmael: The Book Arts of Moby Dick is the first exhibition focused on the book arts of the hundreds of editions published since 1851: the illustrations, binding designs, typography and even the physical structures. 

Drawn almost entirely from the Phillips Library collection, this exhibition will explore decades of creative approaches to interpreting the novel visually in book form. It will shed some light on Melville’s original inspiration and include a contemporary update through recent artists’ books, graphic novels, a translation into emoji and pop-up books. 

Think differently about Moby Dick, appreciate the variety of approaches to visualizing the novel, and explore copies of the over 50 books on display.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

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