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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Natural history treasures coming to the University of South Carolina

Natural history treasures coming to USC An extraordinarily fine and comprehensive collection of works of art that reflect the history of the discovery of the natural world, and how that knowledge was brought from the new to the old world, will soon be in the hands of University of South Carolina students studying subjects from art history to environmental science. Thanks to a collaboration of USC Libraries, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Arader Galleries, USC will be home to a tour de force of some 15,000 natural history watercolors, woodcuts, engravings, lithographs, and chromolithographs, and maps, from the 16th- to 19th centuries; a donation valued at approximately $30 million. These works of art are from the collection of Graham Arader, who has devoted more than four decades to building a comprehensive gallery of natural history artwork, including hand-colored aquatints and lithographs by John James Audubon and other important ornithological, zoological and botanical artists. “We are immensely grateful to Graham Arader for donating his exquisite collection of natural history engravings to the university. Mr. Arader believes that when students live and study near great works of art, great learning will take place,” USC President Harris Pastides said. “Our appreciation cannot be overstated.” The idea is to excite and inspire the students by bringing the art to them – not simply hanging it in museums. USC leaders envision a collection that is a part of undergraduate education, used by students studying art history, Linnaean classification, business, technology, biology or myriad other topics. Plans call for artwork from the Arader Galleries natural history collection to be on display in buildings all over campus, heightening students’ awareness of the treasures. “Graham wants the items he has spent a lifetime acquiring to be used to educate,” said USC Libraries Dean Tom McNally. “College of Arts and Sciences Dean Mary Anne Fitzpatrick and I are working together to plan how the items will be integrated into the curriculum. She has been very involved in bringing the collection here and in developing ways to use it for teaching.” This exciting acquisition follows in the long and treasured tradition in which University Librarians and Presidents have drawn great collections of rare books, engravings, maps and manuscripts to the University by gift from distinguished alumni. The Arader Galleries collection of natural history artwork will be housed in the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections in USC’s Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library. Two full-time cataloguers will be hired to process and catalog the collection. Once all the collection arrives at USC, it will be ready for regular instructional use in about 12 months, McNally said. “We are delighted to work with our colleagues on this initiative because we are committed to fostering undergraduate research,” Fitzpatrick said. “Graham Arader’s vision will give our students and faculty the unique opportunity of working directly with engravings and lithographs of extraordinary quality. This is a transformative gift.”

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