SCHOLARS MEET WITH WOLFSONIAN SUPPORTER TO DISCUSS ACADEMIC AND EXHIBITION PROJECTS TAPPING THE JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF COLLECTION

Yesterday morning and early afternoon, Wolfsonian curators, academic programs manager, librarians, digital library specialist, and FIU faculty came together with Frederic A. Sharf to tour our current exhibitions and to afterwards map out some ideas and plans for utilizing the amazing primary source resource materials that he has gifted to the museum library over the last several years.

Although he graduated from Harvard University and could easily have fallen into a more traditional academic career track, Mr. Sharf entered the family business, simultaneously indulging in scholarly collecting, publishing, and curating. Over the course of a lifetime, Mr. Sharf has amassed an impressive collection of materials on a wide variety of subjects that interested him personally. The rare books, diaries, and photograph albums that he has directed our way cover such diverse topics as:

British colonial enterprises in Africa, the Middle East and Asia;

XC2010_08_1_607_064

JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF COLLECTION

the rise of the Japanese Empire;

XC2002_11_5_1_000

JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF COLLECTION

propaganda from the conflicts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries;

XC2010_08_1_32_000

JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF COLLECTION

developments of medicine and nursing in wartime;

XC2010_08_1_167_014

JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF COLLECTION

and technological and industrial design innovations in transportation technology, including design drawings of streamlined automobiles.

XC2010_09_5_1_000

GIFT OF T. W. PIETSCH, FACILITATED BY FREDERIC A. SHARF

Not content to hoard such treasures, Mr. Sharf has expended much time and energy writing, editing, and publishing more than forty works and gifting many of his collections to museums. He has also worked to organize and fund exhibitions in the Museum of Fine Arts (where he serves as a trustee) and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; the Norton Museum of Art and the Flagler in Palm Beach; and, of course, the Wolfsonian museum (for which he has been an important donor and enthusiastic supporter). Many of the exhibitions he has helped organize and curate have also traveled to museum galleries and other venues across the country and the globe.

Most recently, Mr. Sharf has turned his scholarly gaze and curatorial bent towards the interplay of wartime pragmatism, austerity, and patriotism on nurses’ uniforms and women’s fashion on the home front. His interests in the subject have culminated in two exhibitions: Beauty as Duty: Textiles and the Home Front in WWII Britain  (which had been on display at the MFA, Boston from October 8, 2011-May 28, 2012) and Keep Calm and Carry On: World War II and the British Home Front, 1938-1951 (at the Norton between November 1, 2012 and January 20, 2013).

While here at the Wolfsonian, Mr. Sharf had the opportunity to chat informally with two relatively new FIU faculty: Lidu Yi, Assistant Professor of Chinese Art History, and Elizabeth Heath, Assistant Professor of History. Professor Yi specializes in both Japanese and Chinese materials, and has an interest in propaganda art. There is a variety of propaganda materials among the Sharf donations related to the Boxer Uprising (1898-1901) and various Sino-Japanese conflicts that might prove useful for this scholar.

XC2010.08.1.312_000

XC2009.10.20.32.000

JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF COLLECTION

Professor Heath, who had come to the Wolfsonian as a residential scholar before joining FIU’s History Department, is very much interested in some of the photographic albums produced by colonial troops. Professor Heath has scheduled research visits to the library to sift through the Sharf Collection and has been working with Associate Librarian Rochelle Pienn and Academic Programs Manager Peter Clericuzio on ideas for an exhibition at the Frost Museum Teaching Gallery. Some themes they are presently contemplating include the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) and/or colonial diaries and photograph albums.

XC2010.08.1.177.000

JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF COLLECTION

While there are many amazing pieces to choose from for the display cases, discussions with Mr. Sharf centered on the possibility of conserving a vintage flag he had donated, and ferreting out some larger printed works that might give the show some added color and “wall power.”

XC2010.08.1.243_000

JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF COLLECTION

XX1990.4092

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. COLLECTION

Discussions with Mr. Sharf also touched on some of the Ethiopian, Abyssinia, and Libyan holdings in his collection which would doubtlessly be of great interest to Professor Heath and another FIU professor, David Rifkind. Professor Rifkind has just recently curated an exhibition, Metropole/Colony: Africa and Italy in FIU’s Frost Museum teaching gallery drawn from the Wolfsonian library and museum collections.

Just a few days before Mr. Sharf’s arrival, Philip K. Hu of the St. Louis Art Museum had also scheduled a research visit to the library to look over some of the Russo-Japanese War materials. That institution has a considerable collection of woodblock prints depicting scenes of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), but less in the way of decorative bindings, texts, diaries, and other materials needed to contextualize and comprehend the images. After his visit, Mr. Hu is seriously contemplating applying for a fellowship grant in order to spend some more time with our collection.

XC2010.08.1.927_000

XC2010_08_1_503_000

XC2010.08.1.928_000

JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF COLLECTION

~ by "The Chief" on March 6, 2013.

One Response to “SCHOLARS MEET WITH WOLFSONIAN SUPPORTER TO DISCUSS ACADEMIC AND EXHIBITION PROJECTS TAPPING THE JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF COLLECTION”

  1. Thanks. Great Collection.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: