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Wednesday, August 10 • 8:45am - 10:15am
Making Space for Different Kinds of User Interactions

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Session sponsored by the Getty Research Institute

Old Building, New Public: The Renovation Project of the Forney Art Library in Paris

Lucile Trunel, Conservatrice en chef, Directrice de la Bibliothèque, Bibliothèque Forney

Furness's Brooding Building: An Engine of Active Thought
Hannah Bennett, Head of the Fisher Fine Arts Library, University of Pennsylvania

From the Historical Space into a New Context: The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts Research Library as Part of the Future House of Text
Ekaterina Igoshina, Head of the Library, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts Research Library 

Moderated by Kenneth Soehner, Chief Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Trunel, Old Building, New Public: The Renovation Project of the Forney Art Library in Paris

Since 1961, the Forney Art Library has been set in the Townhouse of the Archbishops of Sens which dates from 1475. Bought by the City of Paris in 1911, it has been renovated throughout the twentieth century, preserving authentic parts as well as reinventing the interiors. The library is currently restructuring its internal spaces, aiming to attract a new diversity of users.

Since its foundation in 1886, the library collections have been renowned for their specializations in fine and decorative art, graphic arts, and artistic crafts. Holdings include one of France’s premier poster collections and the third most important national collection for wallpapers. Following a long tradition of mounting exhibitions, the present renovation aims to rationalize the building’s spaces and enable the library to attract tourists and curious visitors who will discover spectacular historic spaces and heritage collections.

The ground floor around the courtyard will be devoted to temporary and permanent exhibitions, conferences, workshops, and collaborative experiences with all users, from researchers to tourists, art students, and families. An unrestricted visitors’ path will be opened with original collections under cases as well as facsimiles and tactile and digitized attractions. Two noble staircases will be freely accessible, and the main reading room and its spectacular medieval style decorations will be visible through a glass door. The library itself will be wholly installed on the first floor, an improvement on the current confusing mix of offices and public spaces on the first and second floors. The new arrangement will also offer more space and better working conditions for the librarians.

Bennett, Furness's Brooding Building: An Engine of Active Thought

The Fisher Fine Arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania was designed by Frank Furness in the late 1880s as a machine for learning. Furness used industrial elements and imagery, such as exposed steel beams and geometricized ornament, to resonate with the contemporaneous notion that the body and, with it, the mind, were machine-like themselves and, consequently, could be engineered to attain peak performance abetted by both monumental form and subtle detailing. An inspired work—easily the best building on campus, arguably the finest interior in Philadelphia and certainly one of the world's great library spaces—the Fisher today must balance respect for its physical fabric with new models of cognition and new demands from library patrons. Our understanding of the human mind and how it learns is now framed by protocols of computation and information processing, which, in fact, comprise much of the present-day patrons' actual activities within the library. Today, we hear of libraries as hybrid states of physical interfaces or “collaboratories” where knowledge is fostered by academic technologies. While one should not overlook these considerations when thinking about spaces or how users should interact, one must also consider the message in the space’s physicality which, in this case, has fostered generations of scholars. This paper will take the audience through the evolution of the Furness library in relation to its users, its program for them and how it has impacted them, and will then focus on how the library is now exploring ways to draw upon the building's historical and material propositions in order to facilitate the digitization, visualization and fabrication tools of our own time.

Igoshina, From the Historical Space into a New Context: The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts Research Library as Part of the Future House of Text

In 2019, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts Research Library is going to move from its historical place into a new building. It will blend into the so-called House of Text—a new museum integral to book heritage. Exploring the future role of the House of Text, we face the problem of adapting a former lodging house built at the beginning of the twentieth century that has never been used as a museum or a library before, for the uses of an institution that is going to conserve books on the fine arts and make them accessible to the public in multiple ways.

In my talk on the future of our library, I would like to touch upon the following topics. First of all, I will dwell on the history of the library and show how it corresponds to the present day. Secondly, I will tell about the museum restoration and extension project which is to result in the re-emergence of the complex Museum Quarter in the place of the current location of the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum. Next I will give an idea of the architectural characteristic of the former Stulovs' lodging house, where, according to the plan of the Museum Quarter, the Museum Research Library is going to move. Then I am going to pay a great deal of attention to the concept description of the so-called “House of Text” which is to emerge in the former Stulovs' house; and finally, I will speak upon the exact place that the Research Library is going to take within the structure of the House of Text.

avatar for Hannah Bennett

Hannah Bennett

Head, Fisher Fine Arts Library, University of Pennsylvania
avatar for Ekaterina Igoshina

Ekaterina Igoshina

Head, Research Library, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

Wednesday August 10, 2016 8:45am - 10:15am

Attendees (26)