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1929–1959

On view March 15 - spring 2008

Chess scorecard made with stamps designed by the artist
Chess scorecard made with stamps designed by the artist, 1919
Marcel Duchamp, American (born France)
Arensberg Archives
Gift of the Francis Bacon Foundation, 1950

This installation highlights gifts to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Library between 1929 and 1959. During these major growth years, the Library received thousands of modern books and manuscripts-gifts that now define the Museum’s Library as a major art research institution.

In 1928 Fiske Kimball, Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 1925 to 1955, hired the first professional librarian to administer the Library, Paul Vanderbilt. During the Great Depression, Vanderbilt and his Works Progress Administration staff helped create a Greater Philadelphia libraries union catalog and began publication of a library newsletter. Another milestone during this period was in 1939, when the Library moved from its original home in Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park to the Museum’s building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway-where the Museum itself had moved in 1928-a space the Library would occupy for more than sixty years.

During the 1940s and 1950s, many distinguished scholars, art collectors, and Museum staff members donated their book and manuscript collections to the Library. These gifts transformed the Museum’s research collections and helped to chart the course of collection development for many years to come. Through gifts and donations, the Library continued to grow, and by 1960 there were more than fifty thousand items in the collection, more than double the number held in 1929.
 

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