Library Look: Suzzallo & Allen Libraries

I read an article recently about the incorporation of fine art in libraries. Evidently, some believe that libraries are for books only, and pieces of art should be relegated to museums.

I found this very interesting, and started to do a little research.

Read an interesting story here about the library in Long Beach removing a controversial doll exhibit earlier this year. R. Bruce Flowers’ sculpture is shown behind a curtain at the Tillsonburg Library in Ontario. These are only two examples of many.

The point is clear: libraries are the perfect place for art! Where else should a dialogue start and proceed about a particular topic. Who else better to keep the flame of censorship quelched than a librarian?

Suzzallo Bhutan BookWith that in mind, I present the Suzzallo & Allen Libraries, located at the University of Washington. Outside the impressive structure are eighteen terra-cotta figures in niches atop buttresses, which were selected by the UW faculty in 1923 to symbolize contributions to learning and culture.

The Grand Stair Hall houses one of the world’s biggest books, a series of photographs of Bhutan by Michael Hawley.  Protected by light-safe glass, the book’s pages are turned about once a month by Library staff.

At each end of the reading room, hangs a hand-painted world globe, each of which bear names of explorers.  In the south apse, Leif Ericson, Marco Polo, Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, Magellan, Henry Hudson, Vasco da Gama and Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.  In the north apse,  Ponce de Léon, Hernando Cortez, Capt. John Smith, Sir Walter Raleigh, Fray Junípero Serra, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Francisco Pizarro, John Cabot, Jacques Cartier and Fernando de Soto.
Raven Brings Light...Art Installation
In 1994, artists Carl T. Chew, Mare Blocker, J. T. Stewart, and Ron Hilbert installed their collaborative artwork, Raven Brings Light to This House of Stories in the Allen Library as part of the Washington State Art in Public Places Program.

This library is impressive online. I can’t imagine what it’s like in person!

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