It’s been a while since I last posted a blog, but not because there was little of interest happening at the Wolfsonian-FIU library. On the contrary, it has been such a busy week that I’ve been hard pressed to find enough of a breather to sit and jot something down. Why so busy? This past weekend, The Wolfsonian celebrated its fifteenth anniversary as a public institution and to mark the occasion, we celebrated with a formal gala at the Fontainebleau—a quinceañera or coming out party—Cuban style featuring the band, Conjuncto Progreso and DJ Jody McDonald.

Image for Quince Gala invitation courtesy of the Vicki Gold Levi Collection, The Wolfsonian-FIU

Martijn F. Lecoultre, a Dutch collector, expert on graphic art and design, and long-time friend of the Wolfsonian was in town and stopped by long enough to look at a few items from our extensive holdings of Dutch Nieuwe Kunst materials and to drop off a birthday present! While traveling in Mexico, he had come across a rare portfolio of plates by Arias Bernal lampooning the Axis leaders during the Second World War. The plates, arranged in format as a large deck of cards, could not have arrived at a better time as I was preparing a Powerpoint presentation I delivered last evening at Miami International University of Art & Design on the subject of the use of art by totalitarian governments, and was eager to show how artists in opposition also used their talents to satirize and puncture the pretensions of megalomaniacs like Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini.

It was a very busy weekend in the library, as Dr. Harsanyi and I made presentations to scores of Miami Dade fifth-graders working on a book-making project, called Page At A Time. We were also inundated by a flurry of FIU students, who, as the fall 2010 academic semester winds down, scheduled research appointments to work on a variety of final projects for their classes—these are the only flurries we can expect in our “winter” season here in South Florida. A number of students taking my Great Depression and New Deal in Film and History class came in to work on curatorial projects and Powerpoint projects, many of them utilizing the brand new resources recently donated to the institution by Christopher DeNoon.


Other students in the university’s Honor’s College scheduled appointments in order to learn more about specific museum objects for a project in which they are expected to report not only on the social, cultural, and historical significance of these items, but also to think about them in the context of their counterparts in contemporary society. Given the revival of popularity of 3-D movies, one such student came in to have a look at some of the early stereoscopic viewers in our library collection.

Even as the library staff raced to keep pace with the plethora of appointments by student researchers, there were lots of scheduled and impromptu tours coming through this last week. More than cinquenta (that translates to “fifty” for you monolingual “gringos” out there!) visitors came to the library on a visit arranged by the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kalheo, Hawaii. Although we did not don grass skirts or pass out leis to make our guests feel at home, we did pull some of our beautifully illustrated menus from the S.S. Lurline and laid out some amazing pochoir plates from Mathurin Meheut’s portfolio, La Plante Exotique for their perusal.

Museum founder Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. was also in town and led an impromptu VIP tour into the library as well this last weekend. Although we had not had enough forewarning to lay out items for their specific interests, the guests appeared happy enough to chat with one of the FIU student researchers about her project and to get a sneak peek of some of the items these students were considering for a display of New Deal materials.

~ by "The Chief" on November 18, 2010.


  1. Happy quince to the Wolfsonian! I hope the curatorial projects turn out well! And no fire drills this time!

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