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New Exhibit: “That Fairyland of Ice”: Polar Exploration in Mind and Memory

Falvey Memorial Library is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit, both in the Library’s first floor display cases and online.

“That Fairyland of Ice”: Polar Exploration in Mind and Memory highlights the generous donation of a collection of books and items about the Arctic and Antarctic recently given to the Library’s Distinctive Collections by Dr. James Wheeler. “In organizing this exhibit, we really wanted to share the depth and range of this new collection,” says Laura Bang, Distinctive Collections Librarian and co-curator of the exhibit. “It was also important that we make connections with our other collections materials as well as current issues affecting the polar regions today such as global warming and climate change. These connections really enhance the relevancy of this collection.”

“The title reflects these themes of ‘imagining’ and ‘remembering’ that are present throughout the exhibit,” says Rebecca Oviedo, Distinctive Collections Archivist and the other co-curator. “Many of the items on display are published narrative memoirs of expedition journeys written for general audiences.” From the exhibit introduction:

While these explorative voyages were scientific in nature, the books satisfied public fascination with the polar regions by visualizing previously unknown territories through word and image. But even as explorers filled in and corrected maps and myths, we continue to imagine and construct—from works of pure fiction to conjectures of lost expeditions. And as we read about “that fairyland of ice” we watch it slowly disappear as dire warnings about climate change threaten what we have come to know of the Arctic and Antarctic—once again to mind and memory.

The online exhibit contains additional materials beyond what is on display in the Library. “We are physically limited by what will actually fit in the cases,” says Oviedo, “and we can only show one page of a book at a time, for example, whereas online we can show several pages or even an entire book if we want.” Links to items that have been fully digitized in Villanova’s Digital Library are included when applicable. The online exhibit includes additional section headings as well as a Q & A with Dr. James Wheeler about collecting and acquiring the eclectic collection that now bears his name.

The exhibit was curated by Oviedo and Bang. Graphics created by Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication and Marketing. Photos courtesy of Kallie Stahl, Communication and Marketing Specialist.


Listen to WWII Veteran and Pearl Harbor Survivor William P. Bonelli Share His Story

Image of William P. Bonelli, US Army Air Corps/US Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel. Photo by Todd Robinson.

William P. Bonelli, US Army Air Corps/US Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel. Photo by Todd Robinson.

Part of The Voices of Villanova’s Veterans oral history project, Michael D. Brown, Director of the Office of Veterans and Military Service Members, interviewed William P. Bonelli, US Army Air Corps/US Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel, on March 19, 2019. On the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we invite you to listen as Bonelli, a WWII veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor, shares his story. You can download a copy of this recording and the transcript through the Villanova University Digital Library: (Length of interview: 1 hour, 20 minutes).

The Voices of Villanova’s Veterans is part of Lest We Forget: The Villanova Veterans History Project, a collaboration between the Office of Veterans and Military Service Members and Falvey Memorial Library’s Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement Department. Interview audio produced by Laura Bang, Distinctive Collections Librarian.

Hear from more Villanova veterans on the project’s website:

Please contact if you have any questions or if you would like to share your story.

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.







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Last Modified: December 7, 2021

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