It’s Alive

Frankenstein at 200: The Science Behind the Story

March 15 – August 31, 2018

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was first published anonymously in January 1818. The novel has become a classic of literature, the inspiration for numerous theatrical productions, and a cautionary tale of scientific hubris that continues to resonate today.  On the 200th anniversary of the novel’s publication, this exhibition explores the scientific influences on Shelley while writing her masterpiece, as well as the novel’s legacy both in the lab and in popular culture.

West Gallery: The Science Behind the Story

Visitors to the west gallery will explore 18th and early 19th century science that influenced Shelley while writing Frankenstein:

  • Electrical experiments of Luigi Galvani, Alessandro Volta, and Giovanni Aldini;
  • The writings of Erasmus Darwin;
  • The 1815 eruption of Mt. Tambora, Indonesia, which created a “year without a summer” in 1816 when Shelley wrote the first draft of her novel;
  • Polar explorations of Captain Cook and Constantine Phipps; and later Arctic expeditions by John Ross, William Edward Parry, James Ross, and John Franklin that were being planned while Shelley revised her novel.
  • A history of mountaineering with books and images on display from Horace-Bénédict de Saussure and Marc-Théodore Bourrit.

West Gallery Alcove: Mad Scientists of the Silver Screen

This gallery will feature movie posters from some of the more notable films featuring mad scientists 1926-1996.  The gallery will also include a taxonomy or “family tree” of mad scientists by category.  Exhibition viewers will have an opportunity to tell us who was left off the tree.

East Gallery: The Education of Victor Frankenstein

Before he created the monster that would make him famous, Victor Frankenstein was a university student with an interest in many different scientific subjects. This portion of the exhibition draws upon books in the Linda Hall Library’s History of Science Collection, including works by Robert Boyle, Andreas Vesalius, and Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, to showcase some of the researchers who shaped Frankenstein’s thinking.

Upcoming exhibitions:


Flying Machines: A History of Early Aviation

Opens September 13, 2018

When Orville and Wilbur Wright flew their plane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in December 1903, transportation moved at a slow pace. Railroad steam engines, automobiles, and steamboats averaged from 5 to 20 miles per hour. But within a generation of the Wright Brother’s invention, aviation had developed into transatlantic flights and forever changed the social, cultural, and economic fabric of the world. Visitors to the exhibition, The Flying Machine: A History of Early Aviation, will explore the beginnings of heavier-than-air flight from the mid-19th century to the development of the U.S. aviation industry in the 1920s.


To the Moon

Opens March 28, 2019

July 20, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s first steps on the moon. Five additional Apollo missions sent 10 more astronauts to the lunar surface where they gathered rock samples and conducted scientific experiments. The exhibition, To the Moon, will relive Project Apollo and the behind-the-scenes story of how science got to and from the moon.




Exhibition galleries and the William N. Deramus III Cosmology Theater are open Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and the Second Saturday of each month from 10:00 a.m. to  2:00 p.m. Admission and parking are free for Library visitors. Advance registration is not required.

Saturday openings for 2018:

April 14 July 14  October 13
February 10 May 12 August 11 November 10
March 10 June 9 September 8 December 8

Reference, research, and circulation services are not available on Second Saturdays.


  • The Library will be closed on Wednesday, July 4th in observance of Independence Day.