Marquette's Haggerty Museum exhibit to highlight 'Lord of the Rings' manuscripts by author J.R.R. Tolkien

NOW: Marquette’s Haggerty Museum exhibit to highlight ’Lord of the Rings’ manuscripts by author J.R.R. Tolkien

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A new exhibit at the Haggerty Museum of Art on Marquette University's campus, highlights some of the work of one of the most revered authors of the twentieth century, J.R.R. Tolkien.

The exhibit is called "J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript" and focuses on nearly 150 items tied to literary classics, "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings."

The event came about as organizers considered showcasing Marquette University's collection of original manuscripts from Tolkien. The documents were acquired in the 1950s when the university's library director sought works from Catholic authors. One of them was Tolkien, who agreed to sell some of his manuscripts to the university.

"It's just amazing that Marquette has them," William Fliss, Marquette's Tolkien archivist told CBS 58 during a preview of the exhibit.

The books inspired multiple films and more recently a show on the streaming service Amazon Prime Video -- "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" -- which premiers in Sept. Organizers said the exhibit will give fans a chance to experience some of the original manuscripts and other works up close.

"I hope that things like the Amazon show or like what was the case with the Peter Jackson films, that it brings a lot of new fans to turn to the books and immerse themselves more in his writings," Fliss said.

The majority of items in the exhibit are from Marquette's collection, but some are borrowed by the Bodleian Libraries at Oxford University, the only other significant collection of Tolkien manuscripts in the world besides Marquette University.

"Whether you're a casual fan or a really deep, invested fan there will be new things to look at and enjoy," said Sarah Schaefer, a co-curator of the exhibition and an assistant professor of art history at UW-Milwaukee.

The event has been in development for about three years and organizers hope it can highlight Tolkien's work as an author, artist and scholar as well as take fans closer into the mind of the celebrated writer.

"The creative process these manuscripts show, it's his writing and he would write some things, scratch them out and write something else so it's like you're there with him, I think that's the magic of it," Susan Longhenry, the director and chief curator at the Haggerty Museum of Art, told CBS 58. "I think it shows you the possibilities of the imagination and to the degree to which Tolkien created this entire other world that was so detailed. I think it makes us all realize that there's more to life than what you can see."

The exhibit runs through Dec. 23 and will feature additional programming throughout its run.

More information can be found here.

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