I'm not sure that I've ever seen such an amazing collection, with such variety.
This library, located next to the Dublin Castle, has a rather unassuming facade, but what it holds inside is truly amazing. The building was built in 2000, on what would have been the 125th birthday of Beatty. It was built specifically to hold the extensive collection, which includes works of art, artifacts, and manuscripts. The library is a registered charity, and was named Museum of the Year in 2002.
Chester Beatty, born Alfred Chester Beatty on February 7th, 1875 in New York City, New York, held a lifelong fascination for collections. As a child, he collected rocks and minerals, an intrest which would eventually lead him to his career. He studied engineering at the Columbia School of Mines and Princeton University. His interest in rocks and minerals brought him to Colorado, where he began working as a simple mining laborer, working as a 'mucker.' Mucking was one of the most dangerous jobs in the mines. He can be seen in the picture to the left (the man on the left of the image) with an unknown miner. (photo from the Chester Beatty Collection) His knowledge in engineering earned him a job as a consulting engineer in the mines. He was able to find profitable veins of gold and other coveted materials, and worked his way into a fortune. Ten years after he'd moved to Colorado, Beatty was a mine owner, and a millionaire.
During his collecting days, Beatty had a good reputation as someone who was fair and just in his acquisition of works. He paid people a good price for the pieces, and took care to not only restore the damaged ones, but also to ensure that they would be well preserved. While I originally wondered if his collection was not an amassing of "bought" artifacts that were essentially stolen from their respective countries, Beatty has never been accused of this. He made a point to only buy what was on sale, and for the price stated. Unlike several other collections, the works he accumulated were never asked to be returned by their native countries, as all agree he acquired them in a fair way. This was a pleasant surprise, as often times, even the most reputable collections have less then reputable origins. It was great to see a collector who not only amassed an amazing amount of amazingly important artifacts, but also respected the country they came from.
I can now confirm that I am totally smitten with the Chester Beatty Library, and hope to return there some day. This amazing, unique collection and it's equally unique founder will certainly stay with me, and influence my art from here on out.
After the lovely reception, we headed home, and got a pizza from Mizzoni's acoss the street whose slogan, (which you can see on the box) is "Possibly the Best Pizza on the Planet." We were delighted to find that not only is it possibly the best pizza, (certainly on my top 3) it is quite certainly among the biggest. This massive pizza was the fourth size, with one option above it- we were not quite daring enough to try the XXL Mega Wheel Pizza. Instead, we stayed with the much more reasonable XL Wagon Wheel Pizza, and Josh, Austin, Jazmin, Peter, Adam and I ate like kings. After a lovely evening full of music, poetry, blogging and pizza, I am certainly ready for bed.