ATG Book of the Week: Athenaeum Profiles: A Not-For-Profit Education.

Athenaum ProfilesTitle: Athenaeum Profiles: A Not-For-Profit Education.
Author: Roger W. Moss
Hardcover: ISBN: 9781584563280, $55
Imprint: New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2014.

“Prepared for the bicentennial celebration of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia, Athenaeum Profiles consists of biographical essays covering twelve significant individuals who influenced the future of one of America’s oldest cultural institutions. During the author’s forty year tenure as executive director of the Athenaeum (1968-2008), he learned on the job from these men how to manage a not-for-profit special collections library as he resuscitated a moribund institution by acquiring nationally significant collections, attracting substantial funding, embracing modern technology, and creating a research website visited by thousands of researchers from around the globe. How the Athenaeum was pulled back from the brink of collapse provides practical lessons for any curator or director facing a similar situation.

Profiled here are George B. Tatum, Ph.D., FSAH, University of Delaware architectural historian; Robert C. Smith, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania art historian and the leading American authority on Portuguese and Brazilian art; Charles E. Peterson, FAIA, FSAH, nationally celebrated architectural historian, founder of the Historic American Buildings Survey, who was responsible for restoring some of America’s most important buildings; Robert L. McNeil, Jr., D.Sc., philanthropist and founder of the Barra Foundation; George Vaux, RSA, prototypical “Old Philadelphian”; Nathaniel Burt, FPAT, the celebrated Princeton author; Henry J. Magaziner, FAIA, FAPT, Philadelphia architect and preservationist; Robert B. Ennis, MA, Drexel University art historian; Walter Muir Whitehill, Ph.D., Boston author and authority on not-for-profit institutions; Clay Lancaster, MA, prolific author and historian of Kentucky, New York, and Nantucket architecture and Asian culture; Samuel J. Dornsife, DFA, book collector and interior designer, whose clients included major museums in both the United States and England; Ian Grant, FRIBA, the London-based architect and preservationist, whose clients included the Houses of Parliament, the Wallace Collection, and the British Royal Family. Also discussed are Walter W. Wright, Dartmouth College special collections curator, who introduced the author to the world of rare books; and Roy P. Fairfield, innovative educator and scholar. Dozens of other interesting characters – many of whom readers will recognize – make cameo appearances.

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