This post was written by Kirsten van der Veen, co-curator of “Fantastic Worlds.”
When the west wing of the National Museum of American History reopens today, July 1, after extensive renovations, a new Smithsonian Libraries exhibition will be opening with it: Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910. It will be the first exhibition to debut in the newly refurbished Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition Gallery. On display will be some of the very works that exposed an eager and curious public to the wealth of new ideas and inventions of the 19th century (landmarks of scientific discovery, imaginative fictions, popular science, newspaper hoaxes, dime novels, and more). Showcased alongside selected historical artifacts from Smithsonian museum collections, the books on exhibition will trace the impact of the period’s science on the world of fiction.