Univer­si­ty­goes to­la­wover uniqueli­brary

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY CHAR­LOTTE OLIVER

FEARS HAVE been raised over the fu­ture of the War­burg In­sti­tute li­brary, the unique col­lec­tion founded by a Ger­man-Jewish scholar.

The orig­i­nal 80,000-vol­ume li­brary, which in­cluded books on art his­tory, science and astrology, was put to­gether by Aby War­burg in the 19th cen­tury. When t h e Naz i s came to power, it was brought to Lon­don by the Cour­tauld In­sti­tute of Art founder, in­dus­tri­al­ist Sa­muel Cour­tauld.

I t w a s then signed over by a one-page deed to the Univer­sity of Lon­don in 1944, where it has since re­mained, in Woburn Square, and has grown to 350,000 items.

Aca­demics voiced con­cern af­ter it was re­vealed that the univer­sity has be­gun le­gal ac­tion to clar­ify the terms of the deed charg­ing it with look­ing af­ter the col­lec­tion “in per­pe­tu­ity”. It is sug­gested that it has be­come too ex­pen­sive to care for, and could be merged with another col­lec­tion, or split up.

“The War­burg In­sti­tute is an em­blem of the sur­vival of civil­i­sa­tion in Europe’s dark­est hour,” said Lisa Jar­dine, Pro­fes­sor of Re­nais­sance stud­ies at Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don. “To ca­su­ally con­sider its use­ful­ness to­day is just shock­ing.”

An on­line pe­ti­tion calling for Aby War­burg’s legacy to be pre­served had been signed by more than 20,000 peo­ple by Wed­nes­day.

A spokesper­son for the univer­sity said: “At no point has it sought to chal­lenge the deed, but it has sought guid­ance as to its mean­ing, and we look for­ward to the court’s judg­ment later in the year.”

The de­sign for the new arch, com­plete with Ma­gen David

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