Athenaeum Receives $2m Grant for Curatorship of Rare Books

January 31, 2012
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Pictured, left to right, are David J. Bromer, Anne C. Bromer and Stanley Ellis Cushing

Anne C. and David J. Bromer have made an important gift of $2 million to endow the Anne C. and David J. Bromer Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Boston Athenaeum, the Athenæum announced.

The Bromers are the proprietors of Bromer Booksellers, specializing in aesthetically significant rare books, located in Copley Square since 1980. They are noted authorities in such specialties as private press books, “fore-edge” painting, one-of-a-kind fine binding designs, early children’s books and miniature books. Anne studied Library Science at Simmons College, and David holds three degrees, including the Ph.D., from MIT.  They are longtime supporters of the Boston Athenæum.

“The Bromers are among the lucky few who found a way to turn a great passion into a successful business as well as an avocation and a scholarly pursuit,” said Paula D. Matthews, the Boston Athenæum’s Stanford Calderwood director and librarian. “Their love, nurtured since their student days, has included a wide-eyed appreciation of the joys of books as physical objects and a deep empathy for the sensuous beauty books possess at their finest.”

The first Bromer Curator will be Stanley Ellis Cushing, current curator of rare books and manuscripts and a staff member of the Boston Athenæum since 1971. Cushing is the organizer of the exhibition, “Artists’ Books, Books by Artists,” which is on view in the Athenæum’s Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery until March.

“The Bromers’ gift and the appointment represent a true confluence of sympathies for the book as a magical thing with inks, textures, bindings, materials and physical dimensions, as well as words and pictures,” Matthews added. “Historically, most libraries have been the property of something larger: a private collector, a book-loving monarch, a government, school or other larger institution, and subject to changes in their budgets, priorities, and tastes. Gifts like the Bromers help keep the Boston Athenæum independent, able to preserve its values and collections for generation after generation.”

The Bromers said: “We are so honored to endow the Curatorship of Rare Books and Manuscripts, now and evermore. That Stanley should be the present curator gives us even more pleasure.  Books are more than just information. We feel the future of rare books, of books as beautiful objects, is with book-loving institutions like the Boston Athenæum. That future is in good hands with Stanley and Paula.

“Our gift is a perfect fit with our interests in rare books and in the values and focus of the Boston Athenæum. It is also a way to honor the legacy of a half century of conducting a rare book business in our home city of Boston.”

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