Newsletter December 2017

Letter from Stephen J. Bury, Andrew W. Mellon Chief Librarian

Dr. Stephen J. Bury, Andrew W. Mellon Chief Librarian, Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection.
Photo: Michael Bodycomb

Welcome to the Frick Art Reference Library quarterly newsletter.

We recently surveyed our researchers about our programming, and it was gratifying and a great compliment to our staff to see the following unsolicited comments:

“A fabulous resource and an always rewarding experience with a very knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly staff.”

“Extensive resources. Wonderful atmosphere.”

“One of the best research libraries in New York.”

“I love the library and have used it for many, many years. Everyone is so helpful.”

“My favorite place to research and work, one of those great gems of NYC.”

“The Frick is an incredible resource for museums around the country. Your participation in the Internet Archive takes that to another level.”

On October 14 and 15, we participated in Open House New York Weekend and introduced the Library to new audiences including children interested in the crinoid and cephalopod fossils in the limestone of our lobby. We also welcomed back those who had previously used the Library as students and who wanted to once again take advantage of our vast collections and resources.
Stephen Bury
Andrew W. Mellon Chief Librarian
Frick Art Reference Library

Acquisitions Highlight

Depero Futurista (The Bolted Book) by Fortunato Depero
Photo: Center for Italian Modern Art

The Frick Art Reference Library has acquired a facsimile of Depero Futurista (The Bolted Book) by Fortunato Depero, considered to be one of the most radical examples of futurist book design. First published in 1927, the original is a survey of Depero’s futurist art, design, advertising work, and manifestoes from 1913 through 1927. Our copy is based on the one owned by Gianni Mattioli (No. 843 of a probable edition of 1,000) and was published by the Center for Italian Modern Art and Designers & Books in 2017, after a Kickstarter campaign raised the needed funds for the project. Like the original, it has 240 pages of various weights, textures, and colors with a cardstock cover, all drilled through and secured with two aluminum bolts. Also considered to be a prime example of futurist book design is the 1932 Parolé in libertà futuriste olfattive, tattili-termiche (The Tin Book), with poems by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and book design by Tullio d’Albisola.  One day the Library hopes to add this volume to its collection.

Center for the History of Collecting Symposium 

Have to Have It: Philadelphians Collect 1850–1930
On November 3 and 4 the Center for the History of Collecting, in collaboration with colleagues at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, presented Have to Have It: Philadelphians Collect 1850–1930, a symposium to complement the Philadelphia Museum’s special exhibition commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the bequest of exceptional Old Master paintings by  John G. Johnson. The symposium explored the collecting landscape of Philadelphia during the decades before and after Johnson acquired his treasures. The keynote address, “The Encyclopedia, the Museum, and the Collection,” was given by Steven Conn, W. E. Professor of History at Miami University, and was followed by presentations by eight speakers who analyzed the motivations of collectors including Johnson, Joseph Bonaparte, John Wanamaker, Peter and Joseph E. Widener, and Albert Barnes. The symposium concluded with a panel discussion with Jennifer Thompson, Curator of European Painting & Sculpture and of the Johnson Collection at the Philadelphia Museum; Richard Kagan, Professor of History Emeritus at Johns Hopkins University; and Inge Reist, Director of the Frick’s Center for the History of Collecting. The discussion proved to be a rapid-fire summary of the tastes and activities of Philadelphia collectors not covered by the formal presentations.

Programming Survey

Programs Survey
In September, the Frick Art Reference Library emailed a survey to researchers who visited our Reading Room over the past two years. This survey asked for feedback in several areas, including  scheduling preferences, areas of interest, and different program formats. We received 141 responses to the survey, approximately a 9.8% response rate. When asked in what role researchers most often use the Library, 39 respondents identified themselves as independent researchers, constituting 27.7% of all responses. The majority of respondents (63.8%) were interested in learning more about archives, with research databases (63.1%) coming in at a close second. Additionally, people tend to favor the symposia program format, with 57 respondents indicating that they would be likely to attend this type of program. The open-ended response sections of the survey provided us with very helpful feedback, including those who indicated a desire for remote access to programming. We would like to thank everyone who participated in this survey. The collected information will assist us in the planning of future programs at the Library.

Archival Research Methods and P­­aleography Class

The Frick Art Reference Library
Photo: George Koelle
The Frick Art Reference Library held its first class on archival research methods and paleography the week of September 18. Ten participants attended five afternoon sessions led by Alessandra di Croce, Core Lecturer for Art Humanities at Columbia University, and Sally Brazil, the Frick’s Chief of Archives and Record Management. Attendees learned strategies for navigating archives both in the United States and Europe, as well as how to transcribe handwritten documents from the fourth through the twentieth centuries. For more information about upcoming public programs at the Library, please visit our website.

Durationator: A Copyright Tool

It is a top priority of the Frick Art Reference Library to make its collection more accessible to scholars via the Internet. To that end, we are steadily making high-quality digital copies of books in the public domain (i.e. out of copyright) available via NYARC Discovery, the Internet Archive, the Getty Research Portal, and WorldCat, giving them a second life beyond our walls.

It is difficult to make accessible books published after 1922, however, because the copyright laws, passed in a pre-digital era, are vague and subject to interpretation. One necessary step before digitizing post-1922 volumes is to determine the work’s copyright status, which can be extremely time consuming. Because of the time-consuming nature of this step, many libraries have avoided making more of their collections available. That is why the Frick Art Reference Library was eager to work with a new copyright duration software tool under development by law professors at Tulane University. When we learned about this potential at a 2012 legal symposium, we volunteered to help beta-test the developing product.

In partnership with Elizabeth Townsend-Gard, Jill. H. and Avram A. Glazer Professor in Social Entrepreneurship and Co-Director of the Tulane Center for IP, Media & Culture, the Library served as a use case for making the software more effective and user-friendly. Through the testing process, we were able to determine that many of our holdings published between 1923 and 1941 are in the public domain, and, therefore, can be digitized and made freely accessible. The product, dubbed Durationator, is now available for use by other libraries and archives.  For more information on the development of Durationator, see the recent article in the EdSurge educational technology newsletter.

Going Green

Changes have been implemented to improve the experience of visitors to the Frick Art Reference Library.
Photo: George Koelle
The Library is going green by eliminating paper registration forms. Visitors can now complete forms through the website or on tablets onsite at the Library. This streamlined process allows for information to be collected quickly and accurately.

Library Numbers

July–September 2017

Click below to view more information about our services and collections.
Visitors July-September 2017

Upcoming Event

Protecting Europe's Cultural Treasures: The Frick Art Reference Library, The Monuments Men, and Provenance Research Today
Tuesday, January 9, 2018, 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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Photo: Michael Bodycomb

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