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Capitol Fire

Exhibits Marking the 100th Anniversary of the Fire (2011)

During March and April of 2011, the Capitol Fire centennial was commemorated with an exhibit on the Library’s public floor. This exhibit featured rare original documents and photographs from the Manuscripts and Special Collections of the Library, including views of the fire and its aftermath, memoirs by library staff, fire-charred books and documents, and other materials illustrating the destruction of the library, and the salvage and recovery efforts that followed.

Among the rarest items on display was Memoirs of Sir Joshua Reynolds, a book acquired by the Library in 1819 — its second year of existence — featuring a bookplate personally signed by the first State Librarian, John Cook. Because it was on loan at the time of the fire, it escaped the flames, and was finally returned to the collection — in 1967!

From March 19 through June 18, 2011, there was also a Capitol Fire exhibit in the lobby of the New York State Museum.