“Gateway to University” Will Now Exhibit Important Pieces of University’s Intellectual Heritage New York University today unveiled the Mamdouha S. Bobst Gallery, a newly fashioned space within NYU’s principal library the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library that will enable the University to exhibit rare and important items from its collections of fine art, rare books, and historical documents. The occasion also celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Library.
The opening of the Gallery marks the official kick-off of the first phase of the renovation of the Bobst Library. The renovation’s first phase includes a modernization and upgrades of some of the Library’s most heavily used spaces, including its main reference center and the 24-hour reading rooms.
A highlight of the opening was the unveiling of a portrait of Mrs. Bobst by the well-known portrait artist Raymond Kinstler.
The inaugural exhibit in the new gallery, located on the west side of the Library’s grand first-floor atrium, will include treasures from the Library’s Fales Collection and from the Grey Art Gallery permanent collection, as well as an exhibition of NYU’s history told through selections from the University Archives. The gallery will open to the public on December 17.
Phase one of the Bobst Library renovation was made possible by a $10 million gift from Mrs. Bobst and a $3.5 million gift from Kevin and Madeline Brine.
Carol Mandel, Dean of the NYU Libraries, said, “The opening of the Bobst Gallery marks the beginning of an important undertaking for this community of scholars: a renewal of our magnificent Bobst Library in the context of the information age.
“So much has changed since Bobst first opened 30 years ago research involves new techniques, curricula and teaching methods are more varied, and study habits require different physical arrangements. The cohesive building imagination that shaped Bobst Library and consolidated library collections and services across NYU is still sound. We now need to update its functional spaces to keep pace with three decades of change and the developments we see coming for the future. We are committed to ensuring that Bobst Library is a state-of-the-art research university library for the 21st century.
“The opening of this gallery is our first public step in achieving that goal. Bobst Library is the gateway to the rich intellectual life of New York University. Thus, it is important to incorporate within it a space a special entrance within that gateway — that reflects our emphasis on ourselves as a community of scholars and that showcases our values.
“Throughout the world, university libraries, archives and other special collections are critical repositories for rare and unique materials that illuminate our cultural, artistic and intellectual world. These are indispensable resources for scholars. However, because of their value and rarity, they are often kept in environments available only to knowledgeable researchers, despite their fascinating content.
“NYU has several important collections, including the Fales Collection, the Tamiment Library, the University Archives, and the Grey Art Gallery permanent collection, which the members of our community should have an opportunity to see and study and reflect upon in the course of their daily business.
“The University is deeply grateful to Mrs. Bobst and to Kevin and Madeline Brine for their generosity; with their gifts, they have demonstrated that they share our belief in the importance of the role that top-of-the-line research libraries play in advancing the scholarly enterprise and expanding human knowledge. They have enabled this project to go forward.”
In addition to the creation of the gallery, the first upgrades in Bobst Library will include work on the study spaces on the A and B levels, the redesign of the information and reference center on the south side of the first floor, and technology upgrades that will enable users to better navigate the complex realm of electronic information.
The Library will soon announce the establishment of a committee of faculty, students, and administrators to provide consultation and input for the work to be done on the study areas and the new information center. Phase one will emphasize the Library’s most pressing needs: establishing a new gateway to the library and enhancing the study experience. Later on, the Library will embark on a second phase of the renovation in the upper floors, in the design of spaces that will support the changing ways different disciplines use the resources of a research library.
The Elmer Holmes Bobst Library and Study Center, the core of the New York University library system, was dedicated in December of 1972. Designed by Philip Johnson and Richard Foster, the building is the central library of NYU’s Washington Square campus and contains over 3 million books, as well as special collections and the Avery Fisher Media Center. Bobst is also the center of the Research Library Association of South Manhattan, which links the University’s collections with the libraries of Cooper Union and New School University. The library was named after pharmaceutical pioneer and philanthropist Elmer Holmes Bobst, whose gift made the library possible.
New York University, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, was established in 1831 and is one of America’s leading research universities. It is one of the largest private universities, and with one of the largest international student bodies in the U.S. Through its 13 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and dramatic arts, music, public administration, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.