It’s Alive! Frankenstein at 200

October 12, 2018 through January 27, 2019

Commemorating the two hundredth anniversary of Frankenstein—a classic of world literature and a masterpiece of horror—a new exhibition at the Morgan shows how Mary Shelley created a monster. It traces the origins and impact of her novel, which has been constantly reinterpreted in spinoffs, sequels, mashups, tributes and parodies. Shelley conceived the archetype of the mad scientist, who dares to flout the laws of nature, and devised a creature torn between good and evil. Her monster spoke out against injustice and begged for sympathy while performing acts of shocking violence. In the movies, the monster can be a brute pure and simple, yet he is still an object of compassion and remains a favorite on stage and screen.

For the first time it will be possible to view art and artifacts (including comic books, film posters, publicity stills, and movie memorabilia) that explain how Frankenstein caught the popular imagination in the course of two hundred years. Portions of the original manuscript will be on display along with historic scientific instruments and iconic artwork such as Henry Fuseli’s Nightmare, a six-sheet poster advertising the Boris Karloff movie in 1931, and the definitive portrait of the author. The modern myth of Frankenstein is based on a long cultural tradition, also recounted in the exhibition with a vivid display of books, manuscripts, posters, prints, and paintings.

Explore Mary Shelley’s Annotated Frankenstein online.

It’s Alive! Frankenstein at 200 is a collaboration between The Morgan Library & Museum and The New York Public Library.

Lead Corporate Sponsor

Morgan Stanley

The exhibition and catalogue are also made possible with lead funding from Katharine J. Rayner, Beatrice Stern, and the William Randolph Hearst Fund for Scholarly Research and Exhibitions, generous support from the Ricciardi Family Exhibition Fund, the Caroline Morgan Macomber Fund, the Franklin Jasper Walls Lecture Fund, Martha J. Fleischman, and The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and assistance from The Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation and Robert Dance.

​Barry Moser, No Father Had Watched My Infant Days, illustration in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein, West Hatfield, Mass.: Pennyroyal Press, 1983. Morgan Library & Museum. ​ The Morgan Library & Museum, PML 127245.6. Photography by Janny Chiu, 2017. © Pennyroyal Press.

Exhibition tours: 

October 30, 2018 through January 27, 2018, 3 pm (2 pm on October 31)

Publication: 

Related programs

Educational resource

Explore the Frankenstein Online Curriculum, a free resource designed for high school teachers in Enlgish Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, History, Theater and Performing Arts.

Selected images