Celebrating Great Design and Literature
Engaging Communities Around the World
Celebrate the success of Recovering the Classics by hosting your own 50x50 event! With your help, we can showcase 50 classic book covers in all 50 states, and nurture communities of book-lovers in the process.
In 2013, Recovering the Classics asked designers from around the world to reimagine covers for great books in the public domain. This spring, we announced a partnership with the New York Public Library, the White House and the Digital Public Library of America to bring the covers to libraries and schools nationwide through special edition ebooks.
We partner with libraries, schools, book stores, galleries, local civic organizations, and others across the country to create their own events around the covers—exhibits, readings, school activities, or design-a-thons.
By coming together for this series of events, we'll develop a community of readers who will share ideas, events and curricula around these classics for years to come.
We launched a Kickstarter in 2013 to support 50x50 exhibits nationwide! Rewards included posters, postcards and business cards.
50x50 Across the Country
Rochester, New Hampshire
The Rochester Museum of Fine Arts hosted a 50x50 exhibit in the historic Carnegie Gallery of the Rochester Public Library as well as a pop-up show in the old Carnie Medical Supply store windows. They also hosted a one-night-only pop-up style exhibition in the former Artstream Gallery. These exhibits are supported in part by Rochester Main Street, New Hampshire State Council On The Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Durham, North Carolina
In October 2015, Durham hosted a 50x50 event called Down the Rabbit Hole and Through The Frame, where attendees were invited to dress as their favorite character from Alice in Wonderland. The showcased 21 local artist posters, including a 13-year-old student from rural North Carolina who traveled three hours to participate.
Fort Thomas, Kentucky
Third grade students at Fort Thomas Independent Schools in Kentucky reimagined the covers of their favorite books. The budding artists then shared their creations in schools, digital portfolios, and public libraries.
St. Louis, Missouri
50x50 Missouri launched at the end of September 2016 in the Olin Library at Washington University in St. Louis. Organized by a college student with the sponsorship of Washington University Libraries, the exhibit featured over twenty cover artworks contributed by talented student and local artists in Missouri. Thanks to the exhibit’s success, local organizations are seeking to display 50x50 across St. Louis and the rest of the state!
The National Archives
We made history at the National Archives in Washington DC with the first live art installation and performance piece in 2015. Anthony Johnson highlighted our covers in his work, "Space Raft Time Ship", which paid homage to storytelling and the Indigenous Peoples of North America. Read more about his piece here.
The Birmingham Public Library partnered with hometown company Books A Million to hold a Recovering the Classics contest, where the winners received gift cards and their artwork printed on an actual book. The contest had over 50 entries, and it was well received. The main branch had a big exhibit of posters while the 18 branches had smaller displays.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco Public Library partnered with Recovering the Classics for an amnesty program for overdue items by using the cover art on bus shelters across the city. It was by and large the most successful fine amnesty in recent history. Among the items returned: a collection of short stories titled 40 Minutes Late, that was a century past due.
Decatur selected Jungle Book for a "One Book, One Community" adult summer reading program. The event had over 150 copies of the book, printed by the Harvard Book Store with a local artist-design cover. A second reading program, which featured book cover art created by Millikin University students, was the
“Recovering the Classics: 50x50 Book Bingo.” For this participants created a standard bingo card that featured
eight additional cover designs, with "The Jungle Book” serving as the center square.
Salt Lake City, Utah
The Salt Lake City Public Library hosted an exhibit at the main branch during the Utah Humanities Book Festival in the fall of 2016. Participating local artists included Brian Bean, Brent Croxton, Grant Fuhst, Barbara Hall, Caroleine James, Ben Morgan, Jaxton Tristan Mullineaux, Lance Peacock, Mark Robison, Mimi Rogers, Colby A. Sanders, Anthony Siciliano, Stephanie Swift and Terrel VanLeeuwen.
Recovering the Classics made it to two Batesville schools: fifth graders at Batesville Intermediate School created new covers for their favorite classics, and seventh graders at Batesville Middle School designed covers for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and A Christmas Carol. A well-attended "Meet the Artists" reception at Batesville Memorial Public Library gave community members the chance to meet the budding artists.
Morgantown, West Virginia
As part of their Advanced Typography coursework, twenty West Virginia University students participated in a Recovering the Classics exhibit with an Appalachian twist. After learning about the cover designs of history's classic Appalachian books and the traditions that guided Appalachia's visual representations, the students used skills from the class to create their own modern book covers, which were displayed in campus study rooms throughout the year, and in the library's digital exhibit.
Students at St. Ambrose University designed book covers as part of Professor Renee Meyer Ernst’s art graphic design class. The assignment helped them give renewed visual life to the story while simultaneously learning how to create a seamless design around a 3D object. The posters and book covers were on display at the university library.
Kalamazoo Public Library incorporated a Recovering the Classics contest into its 15th Anniversary celebration of Reading Together, a reading program that encourages community-building through literature. Contest winners were decided by online voting and then displayed throughout the library during Art Hop, an evening of art exhibits and events.
Rochester, New Hampshire Part II
50x50 teamed up with Rochester's Museum of Fine Arts for a second time! Recovering the Classics posters were put on display on display in the downtown area, this time in the former Hoffman Furniture building, one of the longest vacancies in downtown Rochester. We're proud to make that vacancy a little more colorful—and encourage foot traffic to the city's local businesses—with second editions of all-new book cover designs.
A Collaboration Between Old and New