TAKE FIVE — PART ONE OF FIVE!

REFLECTIONS ON THE SPIRIT OF GIVING & THE LAST FIVE YEARS OF LIBRARY GIFTS

In commemoration of our fifteenth anniversary, Wolfsonian curator Sarah Schleuning organized an exhibition showing off some of the many gifts that have come into the collection since our tenth-year celebrations in 2005. The exhibit, entitled +5: Recent Acquisitions from The Wolfsonian Collection, officially opened with a members preview and opening reception last evening. As I milled about the lobby mingling with some of the donors, staff, and other guests, I got to thinking about what motivates collectors (and the public) to turn cherished private possessions over to a public institution—the topic of today’s blog. Rather than include items already on display, I thought I would use this occasion to highlight some works that didn’t make it into the show given the limited space in the galleries, the large number of contributors, and the sheer number and volume of items that have been added to the collection. Of course it is equally impossible to recognize in a short blog all of the persons who have contributed to the library over the last five years, so this will be the first of five such blogs dedicated to acknowledging some of those who have contributed either gifts, money for acquisitions, or time, work, and energy in support of the museum library.

In the course of my twenty-plus years working at the Wolfsonian—(beginning some five years before the private foundation and collection was transformed into a public institution)—I have had the privilege of working and conversing with the museum’s visionary founder, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr.—or Micky, as he is more commonly known. Having traveled with Mr. Wolfson to various book fairs and flea markets, it became obvious that Micky was not motivated by any sort of hoarding instinct. Rather, he always seemed to take more pleasure in the hunt than in the capture, and in knowing that he was preserving rather than consuming forgotten treasures. The Wolfsonian first opened its doors as a public institution on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1995, and in July 1997, Mr. Wolfson donated the museum building and its contents to the state of Florida and specifically to Florida International University. But Micky’s mania for collecting (and donating) did not end there. Micky has continued to travel the world collecting (and preserving) things, often in consultation with the curators and librarians with the aim of filling in gaps in the collection.
HIGHLIGHTS OF A GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

But while the museum has continued to benefit from our founder’s continued generosity, the +5 exhibition now on display on the seventh floor galleries demonstrates that other important collectors have fully embraced the mission of the institution and have shown their commitment to seeing it grow and prosper. In recognition of our growing reputation as an important repository for wartime propaganda, Leonard A. Lauder donated a large number of American posters and related ephemera from the Second World War.

HIGHLIGHTS OF A GIFT OF LEONARD A. LAUDER

When Pamela K. Harer began hunting for a permanent home for the large collection of children’s propaganda books she had amassed in Washington State, she was directed by bookdealer extraordinaire Michael Weintraub to the Wolfsonian as the most appropriate repository. Soon after making contact, Pamela gifted more than one hundred illustrated propaganda books to our rare books and special collections library.
HIGHLIGHTS OF A GIFT OF PAMELA K. HARER


HIGHLIGHTS OF A GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf have been long-time supporters of the museum and most recently have donated a substantial number of large works on paper and rare books to the Wolfsonian with promises that more would be on the way. Over the years, Fred has amassed an incredible collection of view books, original travel journals and diaries, and other rare materials documenting the English and European exploration and colonization of Africa, the Spanish-American War and U.S. expansion in the Caribbean and Philippines, and the rise of the Japanese Empire in the Far East. Not only do his donations dovetail nicely with the Wolfsonian’s collection interests, but they fill a gap in our otherwise strong collection of colonial and empire propaganda.

HIGHLIGHTS OF A GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF
TO BE CONTINUED…

~ by "The Chief" on April 23, 2010.

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