As the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) intern for 2012, I am fortunate to be spending time at all three New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC) libraries. The Frick Art Reference Library and those of the Brooklyn Museum and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) share many attributes. One of these is the important role that collecting expeditions played in increasing the holdings of each institution. Interestingly, in the early twentieth century these libraries supported major expeditions that were led by women. These bold travelers came from a variety of backgrounds and socioeconomic classes and were ahead of their time.
Right now the display cases at the Brooklyn Museum Libraries contain a selection of our holdings of artists’ books from the Women’s Studio Workshop. These books complement the exhibition entitled “Hand, Voice & Vision: Artists’ Books from Women’s Studio Workshop” being held at the Grolier Club from December 8, 2010 through February 5, 2011.
Anyone who has slaved over a book exhibition for months has probably had that experience when a friend, who is not a "book person," comes to see the show. You can tell from their reaction that the experience is something similar to seeing an art exhibition with the paintings displayed still nailed shut inside their wooden shipping crates. When you go to European museums, you realize how lucky we are in the United States that artworks are not usually displayed behind glass. But books—interactive books, which require someone to handle them in order to make them "work," in order to be able to see and read them—invariably are.