As part of our mission, CBI engages in programming of several gallery and digital exhibits each year in collaboration with the Department of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Minnesota Libraries. Along with digitizing these physical exhibits to continue serving as a resource, CBI has also established a collection of born digital exhibits relating to special projects, collections and publications as a way to educate the public to have a greater understanding of the impact of computing on information, and culture for the past, present and future.
Our gallery exhibits are found in both The Elmer L. Andersen Library first floor Atrium Gallery and our own exhibit cases located in and around Suite 211 on the second floor of the Andersen Library.
Current Andersen Library Gallery Exhibits
Past Andersen Gallery Exhibits
Originally on display in Andersen Library from November 2019 to March 2020, the "A Woman’s Place: Women and Work" exhibit is now available online. Featuring historical materials from across the University of Minnesota Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections, this exhibit explores the myths and realities of women as workers, taking a look at their roles as laborers, volunteers, creators, protestors, and more. The exhibit also focuses on race and class, and how these identities have impacted women’s opportunities and informed public perceptions of working women. The exhibit designed by Darren Terpstra was co-curated by Caitlin Marineau (Assistant Curator for the Children's Literature Research Collection, as well as Kate Dietrick (Archivist for the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives) and Linnea Anderson (Archivist for the Social Welfare History Archives), and the online exhibit was created by intern Ashley Walker, an MLIS student from St. Catherine University. Charles Babbage Institute archival materials that were contributed touched on themes of race and employment, child care, and famous women innovators.
In 2008, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) donated 57 boxes of information about its administration, operations, and projects to the Charles Babbage Institute. According to its website, ACM "is an international scientific and educational organization dedicated to advancing the art, science, engineering, and application of information technology, serving both professional and public interests by fostering the open interchange of information and by promoting the highest professional and ethical standards." The exhibit, originally featured in the Andersen gallery in early 2010, told the story of the society’s development and expansion over the first 60 years of its existence. A digital companion piece to the exhibit was also created and can be found here.
From May 28 through July 23, 2008, the Charles Babbage Institute's (CBI) then Archivist, R. Arvid Nelsen presented the exhibit Gendered Bits: Identities, Practices and Artifacts in Computing. This exhibit brought to the forefront a discussion on the critically important theme of gender in computing, specifically the notable inequity in gender representation -- or "gender gap" -- in contemporary computing professions.
If interested in viewing images of the displays from the original exhibit shown in the Andersen Gallery, please contact us.
During his time with CBI, former archivist Arvid Nelsen accumulated several sources for the in-suite exhibit on Social Issues in Computing. These included many collections and materials on the history of computing which document the development of the technology itself and of the persons and companies responsible for it. The perspective represented often seems neutral with perhaps an implicit sense that such developments are or were positive. Such a perspective, however, is and has not been universal.
Y2K – also known as the Millennium Bug, or the Year 2000 Problem – was caused by a shortcut taken by early computer programmers. To conserve memory space, early programmers recorded the year using the last two digits rather than four. Computers using this system would then recognize the year 2000 as the year 1900 instead, potentially causing serious problems in many different sectors of business and government.
Computers were envisioned breaking down or behaving erratically. With the extent to which computers had by then become a part of so many machines, cars and appliances, the potential problems seemed enormous and some people feared a complete collapse of societal infrastructures. When this did not occur, society moved on and forgot how important a subject this was on a global scale just a short time ago. The materials seen in this exhibit demonstrate a range of institutions and approaches to the Millennium Bug, from governmental preparations to personal disaster planning.
Intended as a companion piece to the book Gender Codes: Why Women Are Leaving Computing by former director of the Charles Babbage Institute Thomas J. Misa, this exhibit provides a unique international perspective and reveals how computing has become male-coded, highlighting the struggles women have faced in the office, the media, and in culture at large.
A companion piece to former CBI Director Thomas J. Misa's book, Digital State: The Story of Minnesota's Computing Industry, this exhibit draws on rare archival documents, photographs, and a wealth of oral histories. Digital State unveils the remarkable story of computer development in the heartland after World War II.
Minnesota-based companies such as Engineering Research Associates, Univac, Control Data, Cray Research, Honeywell, and IBM Rochester were major international players, and together formed an unrivaled epicenter advancing digital technologies. Digital State reveals the inner workings of the birth of the digital age in Minnesota and shows what we can learn from this era of sustained innovation.