Stuff We Love: The Harold. T. Clark Library

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The Best of Cleveland 2012 issue is online and on the streets now. Read it, love it. In addition to the usual categories, there were some offbeat staff picks. We'll be posting them here over the next few days.

Best Place to Peruse Priceless Tomes: Harold T. Clark Library, Cleveland Museum of Natural History

In December 2010, a rare first edition of John James Audubon’s monumental, four-volume opus Birds of America was sold in London for a cool $11.5 M, making it the most expensive printed book ever sold at auction. This masterpiece of ornithological art won’t be sitting on a coffee table near us anytime soon. And yet, as Clevelanders, we can ogle an identical copy just about anytime we like, at the Harold T. Clark Library’s Rare Book Collection in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Besides the Birds, the 1,000-volume collection includes the one-of-a-kind unpublished sketchbook of Robert Havell, one of Audubon’s engravers. There’s also two complete sets of The North American Indian, a 20-volume photographic document of early 1900s tribal culture by Edward S. Curtis. Sure, you can’t stroll in on a whim and thumb through these priceless printworks. But viewings are available to researchers and the public alike, through advance appointment.

1 Wade Oval Dr., 216-231-4600 x3222, cmnh.org.

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