The Mills College Special Collections Department mounts exhibitions that change three to five times during the course of the year. Exhibitions feature books, archives, and other materials from Special Collections, as well as materials borrowed from others, on occasion. The main cases are located outside the entrance to the Heller Rare Book Room. There is additional exhibit space inside the Heller Rare Book Room.

Current Exhibitions


Indefinite & Infinite Boundaries: Artists’ Books from the F. W. Olin Library Collection

Past Exhibitions

Spring Semester, 2022

As Told by the Library: 170 Years of Mills College History
This exhibition traces Mills College’s long history framed, but not limited, by the history of its libraries. Items on display are from the extensive archive of the college, the Mills College Collection. The exhibition begins with the college’s first days in Benicia and goes through to the present day.

Fall Semester, 2021

Archives of the Arts: Frida Kahlo and Imogen Cunningham

Spring Semester, 2020

Hindsight is 20/20
Books, etc, published in the year 2000
From Special Collection, F.W. Olin Library

September 30–December 13, 2019

Transitory Matter: [Mostly] ephemera from the presses of Kathleen Walkup
November 3, 2019, 3:00–5:00 pm
Reception and talk by Susan L. King: The Ephemerist’s Salon.
Heller Rare Book Room, F. W. Olin Library. Free and open to the public.

May 5–August 15, 2019

Beate Sirota Gordon: The Only Woman in the Room
Selections from the Beate Sirota Gordon Papers; A celebration of the opening of the papers for research, June 2019

September 23–December 7, 2018

A Passion for the Handmade: the Curatorial and Publishing Work of Linda L. Brownrigg

Winter 2018

Just My Type: Type Specimens from the Special Collections of the F. W. Olin Library

August 28–December 8, 2017

HBC45: The Hand Bookbinders of California Annual Members' Exhibition
Opening Reception: Sunday, September 10, 2017

January 22-May 8, 2017

Listening and Meditation
A tribute to Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016) with selections from her archive

September 14-December 11, 2016

Root Connection: 20 Years of The Patti Smith Collection
A collaboration between the Mills College Art Museum & the F. W. Olin Library

Summer 2016

Flora & Fauna: A Summer Miscellany from Special Collections, F. W. Olin Library

March 28-May 31, 2016

Reading The Object: A Decade (or so) of Books By Julie Chen
Artist's Talk & Reception: Sunday, April 10, 2016

February 1-March 17, 2016

Immortal Longing: Selections from the F. W. Olin Library's Special Collections
in Commemoration of the 400th Anniversary of William Shakespeare's Death in 1616

November 2-December 17, 2015

A Fair Centennial: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915-2015. Selections from the F. W. Olin Library
Featuring books, archives, ephemera, and memorabilia relating to the 1915 world's fair.

August 31-October 9, 2015

50 and Counting…Susan L. Roth
Susan L. Roth received her B.A. in 1965 and her M.A. in 1968, both from Mills College. She has just completed her 50th book. Her colorful picture books are almost all illustrated with elaborate collages created from a variety of materials. This exhibition featured the published books and original artwork.

April 1-June 30, 2015

Recent Acquisitions
Special Collections, F. W. Olin Library

January 25-March 13, 2015

Copper & Wood: Roi Partridge & Richard Wagener, 100 Years of Printmaking

October 27-December 18, 2014

On These I Stand: An Exhibit of Rare Black Books and Collectibles
Curated by Daphne Muse, writer, social commentator, and collector
Opening Event: November 2, 2014
Conversation and Q&A featuring Ajuan Mance, Mills College professor of English, and DaphneMuse, writer, social commentator, and collector

August 18-October 20, 2014

Paper Trail: Selected Works on Papermaking from the Special Collections of the F. W. Olin
Starting with the work of incomparable paper historian Dard Hunter, this exhibit featured books on a range of topics including Japanese papermaking, the history and techniques of papermaking, paper mills, and commercial paper. Fine press and artists' books on handmade paper were also on display.

April 8-May 30, 2014

Kelsey Street Press 40th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibition
Mills College Contemporary Writers Series:
Kelsey St. Press 40th Anniversary Readings, Talks, and Celebration
April 8, 2014

February 10-March 31, 2014

Picture This: Book Illustration Techniques From the 15th to the 21st Century
This exhibition surveyed printmaking methods used in book illustration with examples from the F. W. Olin Library's Special Collections. Featured books and leaves included woodcuts, copperplate engravings, wood engravings, lithography, photography, digital images, and many other types of techniques.

Spring Semester, 2023


Spotlight on Special Collections in the F. W. Olin Library: The Binding Collection and the Florence Walter Collection on Bookbinding & Paper