The Objects of Our Affection

Wonderful Characters from the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor


Michelle Jeffers (415) 557-4282;

March 1, 2011

The Objects of Our Affection: Wonderful Characters from the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor

Exhibition at San Francisco Main Library Opens April 1, 2011

Characters abound in the San Francisco Public Library, but most of them reside in the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor (SCOWAH). On April Fool’s Day, wonderful and eccentric characters leap out of the pages and into the Skylight Gallery for amusement and illumination. Poggio Bracciolini (14th century papal chancellor and bawdy jokester); Kay Thompson and her signature character Eloise; New Yorker cartoonist Maira Kalman; folklore scholar Gershon Legman; sibling authors David and Amy Sedaris; sleight of hand artist Ricky Jay; comedian Phyllis Diller; P.T. Barnum and others are on display, vividly reminding us that life is filled with not just a box of chocolates, but colorful, humorous, and wildly inventive characters.

From a simple gift of 93 volumes of jest books in 1947 and named after its founder, Nat Schmulowitz (a great San Francisco character), the San Francisco Public Library’s wit & humor collection has grown over the years to become the largest of its kind in a public institution. Join us in celebrating the characters whose lives and writings have become the objects of our affection.

The Objects of Our Affection opens April 1 in the Skylight Gallery of the Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, and continues through May 31.

Related Displays and Programs:

I Beg to Differ: Discerning Characters and Distinctive Points of View. A book cover display from the General Collections & Humanities Center. Third Floor wall case, April 1-May 31.

On Thursday, April 7, the Library presents a short documentary followed by an author talk with Sam Irvin, who will discuss his new book, Kay Thompson: From Funny Face to Eloise. In the Latino-Hispanic Community Meeting Room, Main Library, 6 p.m.

For the month of April the Library presents Thursdays at Noon: Marching to the Beat of Their Own Drummers. Large screen videos will be shown in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library: The Man Who Came to Dinner (April 7), The World According to Garp (April 14), True Stories (April 21), and Grey Gardens (April 28).

All programs at the Library are Free. For more information, please call (415) 557-4277.

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