The fascinating art of paper engineering is the focus of a new exhibit that is on display in the Libraries’ gallery at the National Museum of American History. Paper Engineering: Fold, Pull, Pop, and Turn includes 44 books that range in date from the mid-16th to the early 21st centuries, creating a fascinating retrospective of volumes, which were designed and constructed with parts that move.
Selected by Stephen Van Dyk, the exhibit curator at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Library in New York, the books are divided into four primary categories according to each one’s paper construction type, as well as the mechanisms employed. The groups include Movables, Pop-Ups, Folding Mechanisms, and Fantastic Forms. The Office of Exhibits Central collaborated with the Libraries on the organization and production of the exhibit. This post will focus on “Pop-Ups,” which are comprised of books that pop up from the surface of the page such as stage sets or pull-out layers; v-folds; box and cylinder constructions; and floating layers.
The second category of books in the exhibit, “Pop-Ups,” have parts that are attached to the surface of the page which pop up when the page is opened. “Pop-Ups” include four basic construction types: stage sets or pull out layers; v-folds; box and cylinder constructions; and floating layers. The Elements of Geometrie of the Most Auncient Philosopher Euclide of Megara… is an excellent example of the category. Printed in 1570 by J. Daye in London, based on the work of the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid, the book contains box and cylinder mechanisms, which were used to create pyramids and other geometric forms.
The Elements of Geometrie of the Most Auncient Philosopher Euclide of Megara…
In the Beginning: The Art of Genesis, A Pop-Up Book, one of the most recent works in the exhibit, also falls into the “Pop-Ups” category. Written and designed by Chuck Fischer with paper engineering by Bruce Foster, and printed by Little, Brown, New York, in 2008, floating layers were used to enhance the story line.
In the Beginning: The Art of Genesis, A Pop-Up Book
From their varied subject matter—scientific, theatrical, religious,
historical—to their wide-ranging forms of construction—Movables,
Pop-Ups, Folding Mechanisms, Fantastic Forms—the books included in Paper Engineering: Fold, Pull, Pop, and Turn
are multi-dimensional works of art. The exhibit captures the excitement
and wonder, as well as the complexity and sometimes seemingly
gravity-defying actions, of these captivating books.
—Lori Dempsey, Smithsonian Office of Exhibits Central