The New York Public Library has announced a $12 million gift from philanthropist Leonard Polonsky and the London-based Polonsky Foundation to establish a permanent exhibition of rotating treasures from its extensive research collections.
Scheduled to open in the fall of 2020, the Polonsky Exhibition of the New York Public Library's Treasures will be installed in Gottesman Hall, a 6,400-square-foot exhibition space on the first floor of the library's iconic main branch building at the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. NYPL has more than forty-six million items in its research collections, including manuscript material, rare books, prints, photographs, film and recorded sound, objects, and ephemera. While the institution has designed exhibitions around its collections for years, the Polonsky installation will be the first permanent exhibition to showcase the depth and breadth of its holdings.
A longtime supporter of the library, the Polonsky Foundation gave two gifts totaling $1 million to enable it to digitize 127,000 pages of early American manuscript material, including the Thomas Addis Emmet Collection of American historical manuscripts and selected literary manuscripts by the likes of Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The foundation also dedicated twelve chairs in the library's historic Rose Main Reading Room to world-historical figures such as Plato, Homer, Shakespeare, and Hillel the Elder.
"All members of the public deserve to see and be inspired by the New York Public Library's countless treasures, carefully preserved as part of the institution's vast research collections for over a century," said NYPL president Anthony W. Marx. "This extraordinary gift from Dr. Polonsky and the Polonsky Foundation will make this possible, and we are so grateful. This new exhibition will showcase our collections, highlight the importance of research libraries to audiences new and familiar, and hopefully excite a new generation of researchers."
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