There arenâ€™t many of them, but they do exist: museums and libraries that house a collection of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. I donâ€™t understand, and it pains me to admit it, but my passion â€“ calligraphy and the lettering arts â€“ is not the passion of the masses. It is for this reason (one must assume) that these sources of art and history are not well publicized. Despite my opinion to the contrary, they are not always regarded as tourist attractions nor commonly considered part of the cultural wealth of their home city. Nevertheless, the contents of these collections, one-of-a-kind books â€“ often richly illustrated and always individually hand-lettered and bound â€“ are more than artfully executed religious documents. They provide the viewer with a seldom-seen slice of real life during medieval and Renaissance times. Many record common activities such as planting, harvesting, hunting, and winemaking, not-so-common activities such as lavish celebrations of the nobles, and evidence of the cutting-edge technology of the era â€“ the calendar. The collections include prayer books privately commissioned by the aristocracy; bibles, missals and graduals created in scriptoriums of monasteries; and even books on subjects such as science, medicine, and the occult. Alas, most people are not fortunate enough to live in or near a city that houses a collection of manuscripts; however, one may travel to such cities occasionally. The list of museums that follows has been compiled as a guide for the native, pilgrim, tourist, or business traveler who might find or create the opportunity to explore these fascinating resources. Please note that the museums listed often â€“ but not always â€“ have manuscripts on display. However, because of the frail, unprotected nature of the books, the displays must be constantly changed and rotated so that light and atmospheric conditions donâ€™t damage the work. Therefore, itâ€™s always prudent to contact the museum before setting out for a visit to avoid the disappointing experience of not being able to behold your vision of glory. The college libraries on this list have a different mission than the museums, and the distinction is important. Although they do exhibit their manuscripts on occasion, they seldom have standing exhibitions containing manuscripts. Their collections are primarily for scholarly intent and are not always available to the general public. Some, more than others, are willing to issue study privileges. Many libraries make photographs and slides available, which provide a somewhat reasonable alternative to viewing the actual manuscripts. Many of the museums and libraries have extensive, easy-to-navigate websites. In addition to providing the usual information regarding operating hours, driving directions, and admission fees, a number of them have digital photos of some of the more notable manuscript illuminations and miniature paintings. Some even offer large 8â€ť x 10â€ť study photos that can be purchased online. Also, donâ€™t forget the museum shops; they are a wonderful source of facsimiles, reproductions, and lots of other interesting â€śnecessitiesâ€ť like CDs of Gregorian chants to help satisfy our inner monk.