In her introduction, co-moderator Ray Anne Lockard, Head Librarian of the Frick Fine Arts Library at the University of Pittsburgh, welcomed the five panelists who presented papers on the leaders and founders of university, museum, and public art libraries. The twenty-fifth anniversary of ARLIS/NA gave the opportunity not only to discuss present accomplishments, but also to reflect on those historical figures who laid the foundation for these libraries and whose legacy lives on to this day.
The first speaker, Ted Goodman from the Avery Library, editor of Avery Index, presented his paper "Samuel Putnam Avery, Patron of the Arts." Avery began his professional career in the 1840s as an engraver for newspapers. Having achieved success in this line of work, his repertoire expanded to illustrations in magazines, anthologies, and popular literature. By the 1850s, Avery also began to acquire works of art and books through auctions and personal contact with other artists and collectors. Through friendships with other collectors, Avery found his niche as an art dealer and by 1864 had organized his first auction. In the next few decades, Avery established a firm reputation and became a prominent leader in the art world. As an elected member to the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a post which he served to his death, Avery traveled to Paris many times collecting works of art not only for the newly established Museum, but also for his own gallery. Upon his retirement, his elder son, Samuel Putnam Avery, Jr., continued running the gallery. Avery's second son, Henry Ogden, became an architect. His untimely death at the age of 39 in 1890, led his parents, Samuel Putnam and Mary Ogden to found the Avery Memorial Library at Columbia University. In addition to the donation of Henry's books on architecture, decorative arts, and other professional books, an endowment was established for the continuation of the growing library. The original purpose of the Avery Library was to provide inspiration for architects through its historical aspects, rather than the practical. Eventually, the collection of the Ware Library, the teaching collection, and the collection of the Fine Arts library in the Art History and Archaeology Department were brought together in the 1970s. Today, the Avery Library, in addition to its collection of "unrivaled printed matter of architectural thinking," houses a collection of architectural drawings and archival material, as well as the periodical literature which includes complete runs of important 19th and 20th century journals.
The second speaker, Deirdre Stam, Associate Professor at Syracuse University presented her paper "In pursuit of Belle da Costa Greene." Who was Belle da Costa Greene? Although Belle da Costa Greene was the first head of the Pierpont Morgan Library from 1905 until her retirement in 1948, an in-depth study of her has been elusive. Ms. Greene, like her benefactor, J. Pierpont Morgan, burned her personal papers and resisted writing for publication. Under her auspices as a dynamic force in the rare book world , a great American collection was developed. Born in Alexandria, Virginia, after high school, she began working at the Princeton University Library. She was recommended to J. Pierpont Morgan by a relative, who was an alumnus of the University. She developed a close working relationship with Morgan. As head of the library, Ms. Greene traveled widely as she scouted for books for the collection. Contacts with people such as Bernard Berenson, Sidney Cockerell, Francis Henry Taylor and other eminent dealers contributed to her success as a rare book collector. She was known to have a tart tongue, an extravagant personal flair, and unerring taste. In her older years, Ms. Greene traveled less and died a year after her retirement. The library, a cohesive collection of West European materials, are a tribute to her collection development methods and respect and support of the benefactors of the library, J. Pierpont Morgan, Sr. and Jr.
The third speaker, Bill Dane, Special Collections, Newark Public Library presented "John Cotton Dana: An Appreciation of His Art Interests and Influence in Libraries and Museums." John Cotton Dana promoted the visual arts and good design throughout his life. As an unwavering champion of the art of the everyday, "he believed that art belongs in daily life, not locked away in dusty corridors" (quoted from the New York Times soon after his death). Dana worked in libraries in three cities, Denver, Colorado, Springfield, Massachusetts, and Newark, New Jersey. Among his many accomplishments for innovations in libraries are the idea of open stacks, a special department for children, and the first Picture collection. Dana, also founded the Newark Museum in 1909 which also initially housed the Library. He was a member of the American Library Association, as president-elect and then as president. Dana born and raised in Woodstock, Vermont was a descendent of 17th century immigrants. After graduating from Dartmouth in 1878, he studied law. Due to health reasons, he moved to Denver, where he was appointed as the librarian at the newly established Denver Public Library. Feeling isolated in Denver he moved to Springfield, Massachusetts to become head of the library. There, he used objects and pictures from the nearby natural history and art museums to reinforce learning in the library. There he developed a passionate interest in Japanese art print collecting, which translated into the establishment of the Picture Collection at the Newark Public Library. Dana was a strong advocate of print collections in libraries. Today, the Fine Print Collection holds over 22,000 works by international artists. He was also a champion of contemporary art. He invited John Sloan to help plan and install an exhibition by the Ashcan artists in the Library, involved the artist Max Weber to create color schemes for the galleries and select a collection of casts, and invited Ives Gammell to design the mural found in the Newark Public Library. His vision and open mindedness has left a legacy of appreciation and the popularity of the visual arts in museums and libraries today.
The fourth speaker, Pat Barnett, Chief Librarian, Frick Art Reference Library (New York) presented her paper titled: "Living Memorial: Helen Clay Frick, Founder of the Frick Art Reference Library." In 1924, Helen Clay Frick founded the Frick Art Reference Library as a memorial to her father, Henry Clay Frick. To accomplish this, she consulted with renowned art historians, who advised her in collection development in order to establish a comprehensive repository for the study of Western art. In addition to the library in New York, Miss Frick also would establish a second library in Pittsburgh, where the family had lived prior to moving in 1904 to New York. By 1913, Henry Clay Frick was in the process of building a mansion worth over 5 million dollars and filled it with art treasures. Miss Frick was well read in art history. When Henry died in 1919, she was left with an inheritance worth $38 million. She continued her father's philanthropic pursuits. While traveling in Europe, Helen got the idea not only to document her father's collection, but all of Western art. Impressed by Sir Robert Witt's Library of Reproductions, she decided to "copy-cat" his library. Thus, the Frick Library was originally founded in the bowling alley of the house. With a lot of help from eminent art historians, the Library grew in leaps and bounds. It became an invaluable source for research for students, scholars, etc. Eventually, a library was built by 1935 near the mansion, which by now had officially become the Frick Collection. Although the Trustees of the Frick Collection were responsible for the maintenance of the building, Helen Frick herself maintained control over the directorship of the library until her death in 1984. To supplement the photo archive collection, Miss Frick commissioned photographers to record works of art either difficult to find, or lacking any sort of reproduction altogether. The archive has grown to 900,000 items of which almost half are fully documented and indexed. By the 1950s, over 7,000 scholars were using the Frick resources on a daily basis. throughout the years, the endowment proved inadequate. A Fundraising campaign was launched and successfully completed by 1995. Miss Helen Frick strongly supported the school of copying masters. There are many examples of such work in the Library itself. Miss Frick placed strong emphasis on the notion that art is for all people, hence the need for reproductions to be made available.
The final paper, "Aunt Helen: Pittsburgh's Gentlewoman Avenger" was presented by Ray Anne Lockard, Head Librarian of the Frick Fine Arts Library at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1965, Helen Clay Frick dedicated another Fine Arts Library, in memory of her father, to the University of Pittsburgh. Why another library? Since Helen grew up in Pittsburgh, she always felt a strong attachment to the city. The University of Pittsburgh was one of the first universities in the country to recognize art as an academic discipline. It was deemed important that the library be related to the university. Helen Clay Frick's relationship to the University was intricately involved and complex. Dr. Mortimer Clapp, an imminent art historian from Harvard was the first head of the art history department. He spent over a year and a half collecting the core collection. The collection was intended to be broader in scope than its counterpart in New York. In addition, Clapp also acquired a fine photograph collection. Originally housed in another part of campus, the new building of the library took longer than anticipated. After several projects were rejected, the one chosen was in the style of Italian Renaissance designed by a Pittsburgh architect, B. Kenneth Johnstone. This building included a closed cloister and garden, decorated in imitation of the cloister of San Marco in Florence. The new reading room was decorated in cherry wood with a terracotta floor. The primary users of this library are the graduate students and faculty of the University of Pittsburgh. The Library also welcomed the public when the building was opened in 1965. The building was built for $3.5 million and included an endowment for salaries. Conflict ensued between the University and Miss Frick. This resulted in separate dedication ceremonies of the new building. The University sponsored its one ceremony and Miss Frick the other. Other conflicts resulted in lack of communication between the two Frick libraries, which have only recently been resolved. Miss Frick died at age 96 in 1984. In her will, she left provision for the restoration of the nearby Clayton Mansion, which opened to the public in 1990. Miss Frick left money to Pittsburgh, not only because she spent her formative years there, but because she was also adamant about avenging her father's name, to counter-effect the legacy of the Homestead Strike in 1892. Helen found art mentally challenging. She wanted to create an ambience conducive to study and one which inspired the love of art history.
The session ended with brief comments and questions from the audience for either clarification or more detailed information on the aforementioned people. Finally it was encouraged that librarians in their respective institutions make sure the histories of their libraries are documented and archived.
Natalia J. Lonchyna
Art Institute of Chicago