The Amon Carter Museum of American Art recently checked out some items from the Fort Worth Public Library, but they won’t all fit in a tote bag.
Multiple issues of periodicals representing more than 35 art-related titles have a new home in the Amon Carter’s research library as part of a long-term loan. The materials previously stored at the Fort Worth Public Library’s Central location comprise 100 linear feet, a length roughly equal to the height of a 10-story building.
The transfer is a no-cost collaboration that moves materials that saw little use at the Fort Worth Public Library to the Amon Carter, where art researchers can more readily access them.
“Relocating these materials benefits the public,” said Linda Barrett, manager of the Fort Worth Public Library’s Genealogy, Local History and Archives. “Anyone looking for these periodicals can always go to the Amon Carter and use them.”
The materials are a mix of bound volumes, boxed issues and microfilm. Many of the magazines are no longer published, and Barrett said the Library no longer subscribes to any of them except for one – Fortune.
Sam Duncan, who leads the Amon Carter’s research library, said Fortune is not a magazine many would associate with an art museum. The copies the museum requested, however, are older issues in an oversize format with unique artistic value.
“During the mid-twentieth century, Fortune was beautifully produced with many commissioned illustrations from a who’s who list of artists,” Duncan said. “I’m already thinking about an exhibition that would highlight the publication’s contributions to graphic design and its support of American artists.”
The collaboration came about after Duncan had visited the Fort Worth Public Library for many years to access several art-related periodicals for researchers.
“One in particular was Art Digest, especially issues from the 1930s and 1940s, important periods for the research we do at the Amon Carter,” Duncan said. “Around 2008, I started a conversation with the Fort Worth Public Library about the possibility of getting them someday.”
After taking current Library Director Manya Shorr on a tour of his library at the museum, he said, the long-term loan became an obvious win for both institutions.
“We know the periodicals will have a good home at the Amon Carter,” Shorr said. “It just makes sense to add them to the museum’s art-focused collection, as those are resources already familiar to local art historians. This is another way the Fort Worth Public Library is reducing barriers to accessing information and resources, even if those resources are housed elsewhere.”
Researchers who visit the Amon Carter library tend to be those who are digging deep into the history of American art, Duncan said. However, the loan agreement stipulates that the museum must provide public access to the material. That means even casual scholars are welcome and able to peruse the periodicals and the roughly 150,000 items in its library collection.
Recently renovated, the research library has another thing going for it. “The museum’s reading room and new study room are gorgeous spaces to come relax and learn about American art,” Duncan said.
The Amon Carter’s research library is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays (September-May); and open other times by appointment.