“It is hoped that by means of a permanent School collection, and by loan exhibits, that interest in the arts may be furthered, and that a more intelligent approach to art may become part of a boy’s education while he is in School.”
Robert C. Osborn, Hotchkiss’s first art teacher, 1929-1935
Because we are committed to the School’s mission that enjoyment, engagement and appreciation of the visual and decorative arts deepen our understanding of the world and ourselves, Hotchkiss Special collections are not consigned to storage. A teaching collection, exhibited throughout the Main Building and elsewhere on campus, Special Collections enlivens curriculum. In addition, it provides daily opportunities for the School community to have individual encounters with art, whether through painting, sculpture or photography. We invite you to contact us to discuss whether a piece from your collections could enrich our collection. Gifts to Special Collections at Hotchkiss mean contributing to its students’ education. Your gift allows students to experience fine arts and rare books in a personal way. Please call us at 860-435-3251.
Special Collections is a young program. The position of Curator of Special Collections was created in 2012, building on a formal Collections Policy written in 2008. The Collection itself includes more than 1,500 works − paintings, prints, sculpture, and photographs − in addition to a collection of more than 1,000 rare books, many gifts to the School by Alumni in honor of a much-loved school.
Special Collections serves as a model for the School’s peer institutions, enhancing and supporting curriculum here at Hotchkiss. The program is committed to a lean, manageable collection where each object, photograph, painting or rare book has clear connections to the curriculum and is managed by a curator and supported by a Collections Committee made up of faculty and staff who support the fine arts and object-based learning. By modeling teaching with objects, the Special Collections program offers students and faculty a different kind of experiential education, including opportunities to engage face-to-face with work by world-renowned artists, writers, and photographers. Going forward, a focused approach to strengthening the educational offerings, while at the same time providing the physical infrastructure the collection merits, will result in a dynamic contribution to the way Hotchkiss students engage the curriculum, particularly in the teaching of Humanities.
Everyone associates The Hotchkiss School with the Peter Woytuk’s iconic bronze bulls that sit near the main gate. Through its loan program Hotchkiss Special Collections exhibits sculpture on the campus. Beginning with Mark Mennin ’78 whose pieces sit outside the Edsel Ford Library, Hotchkiss has accepted loans from regional and alumni sculptors. In fall 2012 “Elements of Home,” arrived. Located on the west side of the Music Wing, just outside the art studios and below the Rohrbach Garden, the stainless steel piece is on loan from sculptor Don Gummer P’98. Cornwall Bridge (CT) sculptor Peter Busby installed four pieces from his “Open Vessel” series in 2013. 2015 saw the arrival of Werner Pfieffer's "Bench." A year later, sculptor Wendy Klemperer of Brooklyn and New Hampshire arrived. Her elk and a large cat graced the lawn between Memorial Hall and the Edsel Ford Memorial Library, while another large cat guarded the entrance to North Road. Klemperer served as visiting sculptor in Spring 2016, teaching classes and doing workshops. If you are an artist interested in participating in the sculpture loan program, please contact the Curator of Special Collections.
Artist: Peter Woytuk’s
Location: near the Scoville Gate
Title: Elements of Home, 2002
Artist: Don Gummer P ‘98
Medium: Stainless Steel
On loan from the artist
Location: West of Esther Eastman Music Center, below Rohrbach Garden
Artist Web site:
The Collections Committee upholds the Collections Policy Mission Statement and is committed to the care and management of The Hotchkiss School's collection of fine and decorative arts. The Collection Procedure (below) must serve both the school as a beneficiary of fine and decorative art gifts and the needs of collectors and art patrons who want to enhance the School's fine arts holdings. To that end, the Collections Procedure is a work in progress and may require annual review.
Statement of Ownership
“The fine and decorative arts collection is owned by The Hotchkiss School and is overseen by the Alumni & Development Office as approved by the Development Committee of the Board of Trustees. The collection is managed by the Collections Committee which is committed to this important resource and its value for the School’s faculty, students and staff as well as visitors to the campus and the broader community. The School and the Collections Committee are committed to the conscientious and perpetual maintenance of the collection.”
1. The Committee will care for a) the permanent collection—items that we plan to preserve and display in perpetuity; b) a teaching collection—items of lesser value, duplicates, copies, that the faculty may want to use for teaching and/or which could become office art; and c) objects that are not part of the collection at all, but were given to the school NOT the collection and need a temporary home before they are liquidated.
2. For the objects in its care, the Committee’s goal is to accession, catalog, inventory and visually document its permanent collection. The Committee will keep those records current so as to provide accurate insurance for its collection.
“The present collection includes both fine and decorative arts in the following categories: outdoor sculpture, paintings/sculpture, photography, drawings, prints, rare books, furniture, and objects of art.”
“In order for an object to become part of the School’s art/decorative arts collection the following needs to apply”
1. Work be relevant to and consistent with the purpose of the collection.
2. The Hotchkiss School must be able to provide for appropriate storage and preservation that comply with accepted professional standards.
3. Objects must have demonstrated authenticity, established provenance and clear proof of title. Because Internal Revenue Service regulations prohibit the School from providing potential donors with an appraisal, donors are asked to supply the school with the value of their gift. In keeping with IRS regulations, gifts over $5,000.00 require an appraisal by a qualified appraiser.
a. While not a museum, the Hotchkiss Collection Committee supports the American Association of Museums Code of Ethics for Museums particularly regarding the unique and special nature of human remains, funerary and sacred objects as well as objects unlawfully or forcibly taken from their rightful owners, including private citizens and victims of the Holocaust.
4. Objects must be in a condition suitable for exhibition or in a condition that the School has the resources to restore and maintain.
5. Acquisitions become the property of The Hotchkiss School collection which will maintain accurate records of the collection.
6. All acquisitions are intended to be part of the School’s permanent collection for the benefit and maintenance of the collection unless otherwise designated by the donor.
7. All objects proposed for acquisition, will be reviewed by the Collections Committee.
a. The Committee will determine the compatibility of the object with the current collection, its value, storage and exhibition requirements as well as any requirements stipulated by the donor.
b. The Committee will make certain there is no conflict of interest between the donor and the School.
c. In the case of large outdoor or indoor sculpture, the Collections Committee will also seek approval from appropriate standing committees and administrative and staff offices.
8. The decision to acquire an object(s) will become final if supported by a majority of the Collections Committee and with the approval of the Head of School.
9. All relevant reproduction rights and privileges apply to work in the collection.
10. If work from the collection is to be considered for deaccessioning it will be reviewed by the Collections Committee. The deaccessioning of work will be recommended when one or more of the following conditions apply and will be executed as described below.
a. The Committee determines the work is no longer compatible with the mission of the collection.
b. The Committee determines the work is no longer able to be cared for in an appropriate manner.
c. Should a work be deaccessioned the work will be sold at auction or to a qualified dealer and not deaccessioned to staff, faculty or members of the Board of Trustees.
11. Proceeds from auction or from sale through a qualified dealer of deaccessioned work will be distributed based on the guidelines below.
a. Proceeds from the sale of all gifts to the collection made before the adoption of this policy are to be considered undesignated and will be distributed per the decision of the Development Committee of the Board of Trustees and the Head of School, with consideration of the need for collection conservation funds.
b. Gifts to the collection made after the adoption of this policy may have a donor(s) designation provision for the proceeds of sale included in a signed gift agreement form. Designation provision must be approved by the Development Committee of the Board of Trustees and the Head of School and meet current School gift agreement funding requirements.
c. Gifts to the collection made after the adoption of this policy that come with no designation provision will be distributed per the decision of the Development Committee of the Board of Trustees and the head of School, with consideration of the need for collection conservation funds.
d. The Committee will keep written records of its collection decisions regarding deaccession, where an object is sold, and for what amount. These records complement the Committee’s accession records.
The Rare Book Collection (RBC) is Hotchkiss School’s repository for rare printed works. As part of the School’s Special Collections, it currently holds approximately 1,200 printed volumes, as well as graphic materials, maps, and photographic folios. The majority are from Western Europe and the Americas. The RBC began in the 1920s with posthumus gifts from the personal libraries of a Hotchkiss headmaster and faculty. The Collection existed for decades without a mission or guiding principles; in the pre-Internet age, many donors assumed access to rare volumes aided student research and supported curriculum. That foundational concept of the power of real things and the role of observation and reflection in education continues to guide the Collection today. The Collection includes a wide range of primary sources in original formats that support instruction and research for Hotchkiss faculty and students, and the lifelong learning of the wider Hotchkiss community.
Collection Scope & Priorities
The Rare Book Collection has particular areas of strength: travel books from the 18th century to the late 19th century, special editions of books by early 20th-century printers, as well as books, manuscripts and ephemera associated with its alumni writers and visiting speakers. New collecting areas are added in response to teaching needs; for example, the Collection currently seeks books that support and enhance the School’s Humanities Curriculum, including works by women and writers of color.
Collecting is fluid and driven by the ability to take advantage of unpredictable opportunities. Because Special Collections’ resources are finite, collecting in all areas is selective. Each potential gift or acquisition is reviewed on its own merits by the School’s Collections Committee. The Rare Book Collection does not accept materials without legal transfer of title, deed of gift or deposit, official receipt or other written acknowledgment, nor does it accept materials that will never be made available to the public. Volumes given to the Edsel Ford Memorial Library and/or the Head of School valued over $500 or editions of fewer than 500 automatically become part of the Rare Books Collection.
Accessing the Rare Book Collection
About 90-percent of Hotchkiss’s rare books were catalogued by OCLC between 2014-2016, and are represented in Koha, the School’s online library catalog. RBC cataloging meets ALA (American Librarary Association) description standards, and additional cataloging is performed in full MARC. To search specifically for items in the collection, use Koha’s search feature and type in “Rare Book Collection.” All items in the RBC are represented on WorldCAT. Physical access to the Vault and to items in the Collection is made through the Curator of Special Collections.
The RBC vault is located on the second floor of the Edsel Ford Memorial Library. Creation of the vault following a preservation assessment by Frances Harrell from the Northeast Document Conservation Center in 2015. At the same time, the collection was also reorganized, remaining fragile books boxed, and shelf lists created. Per ALA guidelines, the vault is securely locked and access to items in the Collection is available only through the Curator of Special Collections. Students and researchers are required to explain why they want to access collections. Hand washing is scrupulously observed and only pencils and laptops are allowed in the research area, which is within the sitelines of the Curator’s desk.
Deaccessioning decisions are made by the Collections Committee on the advice of the Curator of Special Collections. Deaccessions with a sale value of more than $25,000 must go to The Hotchkiss School’s Board of Trustees. See Special Collections Collecting Policy for more information.
Preservation & Security
Teaching: Hotchkiss Archives & Special Collections believes not all experiential education happens out-of-doors. It believes in the power of real things and the stories they hold. In the museum world this is called object-based learning, the idea being that by exploring material culture, students study an object, and generate questions about its role and importance in the world in the past, present and future. Object-based learning teaches students to observe carefully and to draw conclusions based on evidence presented.
Hotchkiss frequently uses its rare books in support of the School’s Curriculum. Copies of Hobbes’ Leviathan, Martin Luther’s multi-volume set on the Epistles of the Apostles, and Thomas McKenney’s History of the Indian Tribes in North America are among the volumes frequently used in the classroom. Classes can either visit the Library or rare books can be brought to the classroom. For more information, please contact the Curator of Special Collections.
Hotchkiss Special Collections uses its Rare Book Collection in exhibitions throughout the School year.