The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston currently is showing a collection of Italian Renaissance Books. Physically, these books are very different from the ones we read today, and I'm not just talking about the differences between standard print books and eBooks. Medieval books were illuminated, that is, the words were supplemented with decorations, from fanciful initial fonts, to borders, marginalia, and hand-painted illustrations. Color was used and may have included gold or silver leaf. The Gardner exhibition of Renaissance books represents the period of transition from one-of-a-kind illuminated animal skin books to paper books created on a printing press.
The exhibit is part of a Boston-wide project, Beyond Words 2016. You can see examples of the illuminated manuscripts found in the collections of the participating institutions by clicking here.
Learn more about illuminated manuscripts from the National Gallery of Art. If you'd like to try your hand a illuminating a manuscript, start off by doing a quote. Look for Paint Your Own Illuminated Letters by Stefan Oliver [745.67 OLI] and you'll be on your way!