TAKE FIVE: PART THREE
REFLECTIONS ON THE SPIRIT OF GIVING AND THE LAST FIVE YEARS OF LIBRARY DONATIONS
In addition to the rare books, periodicals, and other ephemeral materials donated by persons interested in finding permanent homes for their cherished collections, the Wolfsonian-FIU library has also received many works originally collected by design researchers and enthusiasts with a specific project or agenda in mind. Sometimes these collections grew slowly over time as an individual began collecting a few items here and there related to a lifelong obsession or passion; other times, items were selected deliberately and relatively quickly as authors and researchers prepared publications or exhibitions.
Over the last few years, the Wolfsonian-FIU library has had the privilege of collaborating with a number of educators, enthusiasts, and authors interested in design aesthetics. Vicki Gold Levi, for example, has assembled a large collection of materials, ranging in topic from the promotion of Atlantic City as a resort town; the U.S.-Cuba tourist trade in the pre-Castro era; Times Square and Broadway productions in New York City; and U.S. “Victory” propaganda from the Second World War. Following the publication with Steve Heller of Cuba Style: Graphics from the Golden Age of Design (2002), Vicki gifted several hundred rare periodicals, advertisements, and other ephemeral items to our library. She has since worked with Mr. Heller on another publication, Times Square Style (2004) and again gifted some of the original items acquired in the course of researching that book to the Wolfsonian library for which we are deeply grateful.
Steve Heller not only consulted and used a substantial number of Wolfsonian objects and artifacts in writing his Iron Fists: Branding the Twentieth Century Totalitarian State; he also assembled an impressive collection of primary resource materials on his own. Following the publication of his impressive tome, he generously donated hundreds of Italian Fascist, German National Socialist, and Russian and Chinese Communist visual propaganda to the museum. Although the Wolfsonian is renowned for its collection of political propaganda from this period, there was virtually no duplication in the donation, and the gift has done much to add to our strength and depth on the subject.
HIGHLIGHTS OF A GIFT OF STEVEN HELLER
William H. Helfand has been interested in and writing about pharmacy-related topics for many years. He has also spent much of his life collecting pharmaceutical and medicine-related propaganda. In 2002 organized and exhibition at the prestigious Grolier Club in New York City and concurrently published an illustrated history of medical quackery entitled Quack, Quack, Quack: The Sellers of Nostrums in Prints, Posters, Ephemera & Books. Thanks to a donation by Robert J. Young (mentioned in an earlier blog), the Wolfsonian Library was also beginning to build an important collection of popular health, hygiene, and physical fitness materials, even as Florida International University began to establish its own College of Medicine. Contacts between our founder and curator and Mr. Helfand recently resulted in his gifting more than a thousand pharmaceutical, medical, and propagandistic ephemera to the Wolfsonian-FIU library.
HIGHLIGHTS OF A GIFT OF WILLIAM H. HELFAND
Local Miami artist and long-time Wolfsonian supporter, Michelle Oka Doner also pulled together an impressive collection of Miami Beach memorabilia in the course of working with Micky Wolfson to create an artistic memoir, Miami Beach: Blueprint of an Eden: Lives Seen through the Prism of Family and Place. Her beautifully crafted book (which uses natural materials in each limited edition binding) documents the development of Miami Beach as a tourist destination from the 1930s through the 1960s. As both the book and the archive of photographs, blueprints, clippings, and correspondence she later donated to the library demonstrates, Michelle and Micky’s fathers ably served as Miami Beach mayors and were “movers and shakers” who helped transform and shape the image, history, and culture of the city.
Frederic A. Sharf, (who recently donated more than fifty rare view books documenting the Spanish American war, the Russo-Japanese war and Sino-Japanese conflicts), not only loaned and gifted some extraordinary automotive design drawings for an exhibition our curators were organizing; he also introduced us to Theodore W. Pietsch III. Theodore’s father was a talented automobile design artist and had left his son a large collection of sketchbooks and design drawings, many of which were reproduced in Theodore W. Pietsch II (1912-1993) and the Development of Automobile Design in the Golden Age. In the wake of the publication and an exhibition held at the Wolfsonian, Frederic Sharf facilitated the donation of thirty sketchbooks and a hundred or so drawings by Ted Pietsch by his son, establishing the Wolfsonian as an important repository of automotive design history. The librarians and digital library specialist are feverishly working to catalog and link digital images of these original works to our OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog). http://18.104.22.168/W10054
HIGHLIGHTS OF A GIFT OF THEODORE W. PIETSCH III, FACILITATED BY FREDERIC A. SHARF
TO BE CONTINUED…