June 18, 2018

Jay Moschella | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Digital Developers

Jay Moschella


Curator of Rare Books, Boston Public Library


MSLIS, Simmons College, 2010


@Jay_Moschella on Twitter; Boston Public Library’s Collections of Distinction

Photo by Anna Williams, BPL Communications Dept.


Shakespeare’s Curator

“Technology hasn’t made special collections less relevant—it’s made them more relevant,” says Boston Public Library’s (BPL) Jay Moschella. He should know. As lead curator of BPL’s Shakespeare Unauthorized exhibition, he guided a team that gave 65,000 visitors what he describes as “a front-row seat to the kinds of research and discoveries that are happening in modern rare books and special collections reading rooms right now.”

The October 2016–March 2017 exhibition, which showcased BPL’s copy of the First Folio as well as plays produced during Shakespeare’s lifetime, presented a number of obstacles to overcome. While the exhibition was rooted in the printed word, Moschella “didn’t want…to force-feed visitors with case after case of old books and yellowed paper and printed words supplemented with walls and placards full of more text.”

Instead, the team sought to create an experience that would appeal to experts in the field as well as visitors new to Shakespeare’s works. They designed an immersive experience that had as many access points as possible and piqued visitors’ interest by including some of the scandals that surround Shakespeare’s place in literary history. The presentations, accompanied by biweekly curator talks and other programming, aimed to engage visitors with compelling graphics and a structured narrative without overwhelming them. Moschella also participated in BPL’s first Facebook Live event (bpl.org/exhibitions/shakespeare-unauthorized) and starred in a series of videos and written blog posts.

The public reaction was “enormously inspiring,” says Moschella, who drew praise from BPL president David Leonard: “His sense of humor and commitment to scholarship drove the tone of the exhibition and made this a signature event for [BPL’s] celebration of 400 years of Shakespeare.”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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