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Vassar College Art Library Renovations

September 9, 2009

When I was applying to college the most important thing for me was the atmosphere in the library. I knew I was going to spend so much time there that I had to like it. Vassar’s library was perfect for me and so beautiful inside and I did end up spending way too much time there… but the sad thing was the art library was in a wing of its own connected to the art history lecture halls and it always reminded me of an ancient submarine. While the main library had some open airy spaces with tapestries hanging from the walls and sofas to sit on the art library had claustrophobia inducing stacks in what seemed like mazes underground and these weird glass tiled rooms that had been designed for studying images for art history classes (and had completely fallen out of their original use). For a lovely nostalgic tour, the art librarian Mr. Hill has composedĀ a slideshow of the original library as designed in 1937 by John McAndrew, who taught architectural history and drafting in the Vassar College Department of Art from 1931 to 1937.

The Vassar College Art Library main reading room alcove table, from the slideshow on the original library by librarian T. Edward Hill.

The Vassar College Art Library main reading room alcove table, from the slideshow on the original library by librarian T. Edward Hill.

Fortunately, the library has hopefully been rescued from its submarine-ish state (unfortunately, AFTER I graduated!). The art library has finally been renovated! I’m not sure if I will like the results but I will be there to inspect this Saturday when the librarians and art history professors gather to christen the new space with a series of lectures on modernism in America and architectural renovation. The curator of the Furniture, Textiles and Fashion department at the Victoria & Albert Museum (and a Vassar alum) is also giving a lecture on the European influence on modernism in America. The full schedule can be seen here. I’m not sure if I’ll like the new library since I grew so used to the stuffy basement feel of the old one but I guess in the spirit of change I should accept it…

Vassar College Art Library Renovation - Official Opening September 12, 2009

Vassar College Art Library Renovation - Official Opening September 12, 2009

P.S. I visited on Saturday and the renovation was beautiful! New seminar rooms were added and study rooms have TVs with image files loaded for quick access. All the lighting was completely updated and the whole library looks so much brighter. It is an amazing improvement, and from what I learned a very true likeness to the original vision.

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