Discover Rosenberg Library
A library information series
designed to give patrons and visitors to the site a closer look at the many special rooms and features of the Rosenberg Library.
ROSENBERG LIBRARY - The Museum
osenberg Library, which first opened its doors to the public in 1904, is a Galveston treasure for much more beyond its service as a public library. It also houses actual treasure in its collection of historic artifacts and documents. The Rosenberg Library Museum
maintains a collection of priceless artifacts donated over the years by Galveston's families and friends, the bulk of which are stored in the library's attic. In 2011, a much needed climate-controlled room was created in the attic to store the Museum's priceless artwork. Many of its artifacts and paintings are, have been and will be beautifully displayed within the library.
The Library Board of Directors' publication Henry Rosenberg, 1824-1893
, published in 1918, chronicles the Museum's beginnings with the donation of a photograph:
On May 2, 1906, a fine enlarged photograph of the "Ruins of the Parthenon" secured from a noted art dealer in New York was donated to the Rosenberg Library by the Wednesday Club.
This was the first of a series of donations to the Library of artistic and historical value. This first donation established a fine standard for further valuable works of this character to be placed in the beautiful Rosenberg Library building.
On May 25, 1907, a bust of Major AJ Walker first president of the library Board of Directors was placed in a prominent position in the southeast reading room of the Library. This fine bust of white Carrara marble was donated by the sculptor Louis Amateis. During this same year a portrait in oil of Colonel MF Mott was also hung on the wall in the same room.
That first donation was recently restored and, as of this writing (May 2012), is hanging in the Fox Room
Ruins of the Parthenon
Hanging in the Fox Room (Jan. 2012)
Ruins of the Parthenon
Displayed at the northeast staircase (ca. 1918)
The book goes on to describe the eventual installation of temporary exhibits:
One of the features of the work of the Library is that of exhibits. For years it has been the library practice to install from time to time interesting temporary exhibits of limited extent. The materials of these exhibits have been placed in showcases and on screens and bulletin boards in the library corridor, in glass front wall cases, and in the swinging frames of our large exhibit stand. Just a few of the subjects of these exhibits are as follows: Shakespeare rare prints and souvenirs; Old and rare books and interesting bindings; History of the art of writing; Holiday books for children; Edwin A Abbey's Holy Grail; Reproductions of great paintings; Work of Frederic Remington and other artists; Chateaux of France Luther and the Reformation four hundredth anniversary; Flags and dolls of various countries; Photographs prints and posters relating to the Great War; Local history books, prints, maps and relics; Birds of Texas; Our national parks.
The Rosenberg Library Museum currently maintains one permanent gallery, three galleries of rotating exhibits, and several display cases, along with all artwork in the building.
All of the major galleries are located on the fourth floor of the library. The Lykes Gallery
houses the permanent exhibit Galveston: Treasure Isle of the Gulf
, a gift from the family of James McKay Lykes, and is graced by a beautiful stained glass window depicting the first ship used by Lykes Lines, The Doctor Lykes. The ship's bell and steering wheel have been permanent furnishings of the gallery, along with several cases of artifacts showcasing Galveston's history as an important port of entry. As part of the 2010 major renovations of the library's interior, the Museum revamped the gallery's exhibit to include interactive displays, and the ship's wheel was mounted before a large video screen where visitors can take a virtual tour of Galveston Bay harbor.
The Lykes Gallery, along with the Hutchings Gallery
, occupy space that was originally a lecture hall when the library was built in 1904. In 1952 the auditorium was remodeled to provide needed space for audio-visual and archival materials, and when those materials were moved into the newly built Moody Memorial Wing in 1971, the Museum's galleries were installed.
The Hallway Gallery
was installed in 2009, and, as its name implies, is contained in a large hallway. The Hallway Gallery runs between the Lykes Gallery, what was originally the auditorium, and the Fox Room
, originally the children's department. Both the Hutchings Gallery and the Hallway Gallery house rotating exhibits. The remaining Harris Gallery
, located directly west of Lykes and Hutchings galleries within the Moody Memorial Wing of the library, serves as both the Museum's art gallery and a public meeting space.
A curator's office for the Museum is located on the fourth floor in what was originally the Special Collections room adjacent to the north stairway and still has its original wrought iron doors. When the Friends of the Rosenberg Library was organized in 1940, a memorial gift was donated from the estate of John M. Winterbotham establishing "The John Miller Winterbotham Memorial Room" in that location. The room was dedicated on January 18, 1942, and housed over 1,600 volumes and 25,000 manuscripts. In 1973, the space was again reappropriated, and the documents moved into archives.
The Museum curator and one assistant maintain all of the many thousands of artifacts, both displayed and stored, and continue to receive and catalog all donations that come to the Museum through Special Collections
. The Rosenberg Library Museum website
offers pictures and descriptions of both current and past exhibits in all of the galleries and displays.
The auditorium ca. 1904
Left: looking west; Right: looking east toward the children's department
Do you have a question about the Rosenberg Library building or some part of it that piques your interest? Let us know, and maybe we can help you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, see the other entries in this Discover series by clicking here