October 15, 1937
Wheaton College art instructor Wilhelmina Van Ingen ’26 was a guest of honor at the dedication of the Van Ingen Library connecting Taylor Hall and Thompson Library. Named in honor of her grandfather, Henry Van Ingen, Vassar’s first art professor, the building contained conference rooms, offices, study rooms, a drafting studio and library space that doubled the Library’s existing 200,000 volume capacity.
Built with $160,000 drawn from a fund bequeathed by Mary Clark Thompson in 1923 and with $40,000 from general college funds, the building by architects Allen, Collens & Willis, continued the Gothic style of Thompson Library in a simplified form. But its interior, designed by Theodore Muller and John McAndrew, assistant professor of art and first curator of architecture and industrial art at the Museum of Modern Art, was thoroughly modern, featuring glass brick walls, minimal detail and deep colors.
Speaking at the dedication, Dr. Frederick Keppel, president of the Carnegie Corporation praised the building and predicted rapid changes in its use. “Basic rules of the game of reading are being changed before our eyes,” he explained. “We have to go back to the fifteenth century to find a change of equal importance. In recorded human communication, photography, and in particular microphotography, are already operating to abolish rarity and inaccessibility, and it will soon operate to wipe out the present, limiting factor for collecting records, the factor of sheer bulk.
“You will soon be able to get all the incunabula and first folios you want on sixteen-millimeter film, and the files of The London Times and The New York Times won’t rout you out of house and home when reduced to 1/256th of their present area.”
The dedication ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a memorial plaque to four other former faculty members: Professor of English Truman J. Backus; Professor of History Lucy Maynard Salmon; Professor of English Laura Johnson Wylie ’75 and Professor of Economics Emilie Louise Wells ’95. The New York Times
Mary Morris Pratt '80 gave funds for the remodeling the South Gallery in Taylor Hall concurrent with the completion of the Van Ingen Library.
Commenting on the display space provided in the new building, professor of art Agnes Rindge said: “The Vassar art department has devised its own peculiar method of instruction in art, differing from other colleges and universities in the greater stress placed upon visual learning. …we require an extensive mastery of [the] objects themselves….”